Xanadu, Imec Partner to Develop Quantum Photonic Chips

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Xanadu, a full-stack photonic quantum computing company, and imec are partnering to develop the next generation of quantum qubits based on ultralow-loss silicon nitride waveguides.
A SiN wafer with photonic integrated circuits manufactured on imec’s advanced 200mm line. Courtesy of imec.
A SiN wafer with photonic integrated circuits manufactured on imec’s advanced 200-mm line. Courtesy of imec.

Xanadu is developing a quantum computer based on photonic qubits. Specifically, these photonic qubits are based on squeezed states — a special type of light generated by chip-integrated silicon photonic devices. This approach uses particles of light to carry information through photonic chips, rather than electrons or ions used by other approaches. Xanadu’s photonic approach offers the benefits of scalability to one million qubits through optical networking, room temperature computation, and the ability to leverage fabrication R&D centers such as imec.

Competing platforms for photonic quantum computing traditionally rely on single-photon sources made from silicon waveguides, which suffer from nondeterministic operation. Using silicon nitride enables the generation of squeezed states, which replace single photons as the basic resource for synthesizing qubits. Squeezed states are deterministically generated and can be used to distill error-resistant qubits called GKP states. When multiplexed and implemented in Xanadu’s architecture, they offer a more promising path to fault-tolerant computing.

“Imec is one of the few semiconductor R&D centers that does advanced technology R&D on advanced 200-mm and 300-mm lines, as well as volume manufacturing on their 200-mm line, capable of delivering up to a thousand wafers per year per customer on a few platforms including ultralow-loss photonic platforms,” said Zachary Vernon, who heads Xanadu’s hardware team. “The seamless transfer offered by imec of new processes to production is especially critical for rapid scaling of our technology.” 

Published: August 2021
The term quantum refers to the fundamental unit or discrete amount of a physical quantity involved in interactions at the atomic and subatomic scales. It originates from quantum theory, a branch of physics that emerged in the early 20th century to explain phenomena observed on very small scales, where classical physics fails to provide accurate explanations. In the context of quantum theory, several key concepts are associated with the term quantum: Quantum mechanics: This is the branch of...
A qubit, short for quantum bit, is the fundamental unit of information in quantum computing and quantum information processing. Unlike classical bits, which can exist in one of two states (0 or 1), qubits can exist in multiple states simultaneously, thanks to a quantum property known as superposition. This unique feature enables quantum computers to perform certain types of calculations much more efficiently than classical computers. Key characteristics of qubits include: Superposition: A...
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