Lunch & learn: Quantum computing

SL2_SH2 2018-10-22T12:15:00.000Z

Andrea Morello
Professor of Quantum Engineering
University of New South Wales (UNSW Sydney)

Modern digital computers, built upon silicon chips containing billions of nanometer-scale transistors, are one of the most impressive achievements of humankind. Despite this, there are certain hard computational problems that even the most powerful computers on earth cannot solve. For some of these problems, a radically new solution has been proposed: a Quantum Computer.

Such a machine, due to the combination of the intrinsic mystique of quantum mechanics with the prospect of colossal returns on investment, is attracting an ever-increasing share of media and business attention, accompanied by the (entirely accurate) suspicion that very few people actually know how it works and what it does. Will it replace digital computers? Will it crack RSA encryption and blockchain? Will it predict the weather and the stock market? Will it cure cancer and solve climate change?

Professor Andrea Morello - a multi-awarded pioneer of quantum computing hardware, educator of quantum engineers, and successful popularizer of quantum science – will take us on a hype-free journey through the inner workings of a quantum computer. He will give an accessible introduction to the physical principles that underpin quantum information, and highlight the differences and similarities between classical and quantum processors.

This will help clarify that, far from being machines that can “solve all kinds of hard problems”, quantum computers are best adapted to very specific computations. These often relate directly to the simulations of quantum systems, such as molecules and complex materials, which have enormous potential to impact industries and societies.

Finally, Professor Morello will update us on the current state of the art in silicon-based quantum computing, a field he helped establish during the last 10 years. Rather than developing exotic materials and devices from scratch, his project aims at building reliable quantum computer hardware by using the manufacturing processes already developed by the trillion-dollar silicon microelectronic industry, blending technological maturity with maximum commercial impact.