Perhaps the most exciting part of the Microsoft Ignite Conference 2017 at the end of September was when Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella stated the big words ‘quantum computing’.
Harnessing the power of particle physics, Microsoft plans to release a topological quantum computer as part of a new quantum-computing platform. The preview of the quantum platform may be released by as soon as the end of 2017. The debut of Microsoft’s quantum computing era involves a simulator paired with a new programming language within Visual Studio.
A general-purpose topological quantum computer is currently in the very early stages of construction. The key player in the quantum game is the topological qubit where stored information is not localised in a single place, but instead stored globally inside a topological structure. Topological qubits are made from a new form of matter, and can achieve longer, more accurate, and more consistent computations. A Microsoft quantum team of a computer scientist, a mathematician, and two physicists are some of the key players working together to realise this dream.
The physics behind the scenes of the quantum super computer involves electron fractionisation, which is the physical effect controlling the topological property key to the qubit. The fractionisation process, in which an electron, simultaneously present and not present, is split up into Majorana fermions. Majorana fermions can only be observed at in cryogenic environments and are quantum superpositions of the simultaneous states of being present, and not being present. They form particles that encode the original information of the single electron and spread the same information across the entire matter. This results in a global, topological data management system, which provides the innovative benefit of being immune to local errors.
A prototype of the quantum chip was showed to the audience at Ignite 2017. The basic and most important step of developing the quantum chip of the super computer is making one of the fractionalised electrons affect another electron, and then the next one, in a chain reaction. The hardest part is to be able to control this process, without being able to measure it. This is because the act of measuring would affect the superposition effect, which is key to achieving the topological effect.
Microsoft is not the first and only technology giant to have invested in quantum computing. IBM and other international researchers have also set foot in this futuristic market. Earlier this year, Microsoft teamed up with major universities across the world in the pursuit of achieving a scalable quantum computer. These universities include University of Sydney, Purdue University in the US, Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and Denmark University of Copenhagen.
In a nutshell, the quantum computing talk at Ignite 2017 has sparked interest in the audience and wider public. While Microsoft is constantly improving its general services and products to help organisations manage their daily businesses, it is also embarking on the race to reduce the gap between science fiction and reality. For more information on how Microsoft's products and tools could assist your business, contact WM Reply today for our technology tips.