• STFC Collaboration brings hope for first Quantum Computer

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STFC Collaboration brings hope for first Quantum Computer

Mar 20 2023

PsiQuantum, a Silicon Valley start-up is to open its first advanced research and development (R&D) facility outside of the US at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory.

The collaboration, which will enable the company to develop advanced cryogenic systems critical in its mission to build the world’s first useful quantum computer, followed a £9 million investment by the UK government to support PsiQuantum’s collaboration with STFC to overcome the scaling challenges facing ‘fault tolerant’ quantum computing.

Through this collaboration, PsiQuantum will gain access to:

  • one of Europe’s largest cryogenic cooling facilities and its leading experts
  • large-scale R&D engineering facilities and workshops
  • future synergies with experts at STFC’s Hartree Centre
  • future synergies with the UK National Quantum Computing Centre

Scientists are already building intermediate-scale quantum computers with a few hundred qubits (also known as Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum, or NISQ computers); but for a quantum computer to be commercially useful in solving real world problems, qubits are needed in the millions.

PsiQuantum’s cubits are based on particles of light, (photons) and photon detector technology which requires cryogenic cooling to reach the scale of a million qubits.

These devices operate at temperatures just a few degrees above absolute zero, equivalent to the temperature of deep space (in the region of -270°C).

Although very cold, the photonic approach used by PsiQuantum is said to be far less demanding than that required of alternative technologies, thus circumventing the unprecedented challenge of having to develop large-scale milli-Kelvin dilution refrigeration.

Home to one of Europe’s largest cryogenic cooling facilities, STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory in the Liverpool City Region develops cryomodules for large-scale research facilities across the world. PsiQuantum will work with STFC’s experts to build an advanced cryogenics centre that will increase its cryogenic capabilities 100-fold for testing quantum computing modules with the highest cryogenic cooling power to date.

Mark Thompson, Chief Technologist and Co-Founder at PsiQuantum, said: “We are very excited to be setting up a lab in the UK in collaboration with the STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory.

“The UK has a long history in quantum technologies and a talent pool of exceptional quantum engineers. The STFC team and facilities are absolutely world class, with a deep history of accomplishments in large-scale scientific infrastructure.

“Access to existing cryogenic infrastructure and expertise accelerates PsiQuantum’s mission to deliver a large-scale quantum computer.”

Paul Vernon, Head of STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, said: “PsiQuantum is a shining example of how STFC is supporting pioneering businesses in their mission to develop the technologies that have the potential to change the world we live in, to transform industry and change our lives for the better.

“I am really excited to welcome PsiQuantum to Daresbury Laboratory, where our cutting edge technologies, facilities and expertise are contributing towards what could be a critical milestone in quantum computing for the world.”

This collaboration gives rise to clear synergies within the wider Sci-Tech Daresbury Campus. This includes the Hartree National Centre for Digital Innovation (HNCDI), a collaboration between STFC and IBM which provides businesses of all sizes access to the latest advanced supercomputing technologies, normally only available to academia and large-scale industry.

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