RIKEN Center for Quantum Computing Established

From hardware to software,
from basic science to applied research.

Quantum mechanics was born in the early 20th century and contributed as the most fundamental theory in physics to the development of various fields in science and technology. For example, we may safely say that none of the computing and network technologies indispensable in our society would have existed without understanding of quantum mechanics. However, the novel concepts in quantum information science, rapidly growing since the end of the last century, have revealed that we have not fully exploited the potential of quantum mechanics. The RIKEN Center for Quantum Computing (RQC) explores the frontier of quantum technologies through the research and development of quantum computers as innovative information processing units based on the principles of quantum mechanics. Our full-stack approach covers broad aspects of the research and development from hardware to software and from basic science to applications.

Although the new center was opened this year, this is not the first year for RIKEN’s development of quantum computers. Back in 2001, the late Dr. Akira Tonomura served as the first group director of the Single Quantum Dynamics Research Group in the RIKEN Frontier Research System, where discovery of knowledge that can be the foundation for science and technology in the 21st century is pursued. The Macroscopic Quantum Coherence Team was inaugurated in the Group with Dr. Jaw Shen Tsai as the team leader. And that is when RIKEN started research in quantum information science. It was two years after Dr. Yasunobu Nakamura, Dr. Yuri Pashkin, and Team Leader Tsai (titles are as of 1999), who were then staff members of NEC Corporation (NEC), succeeded in controlling quantum superposition using solid-state components for the first time in the world. This year marked their 20th year of conducting the research as a team, and now the team has developed into a research center under Dr. Nakamura as the director. Quantum computing with the superconducting method, which Director Nakamura and Team Leader Tsai have been working on, is not the only target of development at the Quantum Computing Research Center. In addition to development of optical quantum computers led by Deputy Director Akira Furusawa, and research on hardware relating the use of various types of physical systems including electron spins in semiconductors and atoms in vacuum, the center promotes software-related research, such as studies on quantum computing theory, quantum algorithms and quantum architecture. That is, the Center is a research and development hub that covers a wide range of quantum computer fields.

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