How this quantum computing startup is taking on Google and IBM


Atlantic Quantum, which spun out of research at MIT, has developed a new type of quantum architecture that’s easier to scale.
quantum computer

A key component that undergirds a quantum computer is a “qubit,” a aluminum superconducting circuit or “electrical switch” built on silicon chips that encodes information.


Atlantic Quantum, a young startup that’s building quantum computers– machines that are capable of advanced and high-speed information processing– has published new research Monday that shows the architecture of the circuits underlying its quantum computer produces far fewer errors than the industry standard used in quantum computers built by the likes of IBM and Google.

While still several years away from real-world applications, quantum computers can be used to solve certain complex problems faster and better than the computers that we use today: from advanced drug discovery to building lighter batteries to cracking encryption protocols. It also has potential for application in areas like predicting the weather and forecasting changes in the stock market. But that can happen only after overcoming some major hardware roadblocks, says Atlantic Quantum CEO Bharath Kannan, who cofounded the startup out of MIT last year and raised $9 million in seed funding.

A key component that undergirds a quantum computer is a “qubit,” a aluminum superconducting circuit or “electrical switch” built on silicon chips that encodes information. But scientists are struggling to structure a qubit that can be scaled to the point where it’s better than conventional computing.. Atlantic Quantum’s goal is to address just that, and it’s inching closer, Kannan says.

“With quantum you know, it really isn’t a question of if quantum computers will be able to do these, it’s a question of when, and, and that’s what we need to do. We just need to make sure that the when is not 50 years from now,” he says.

So far, the technological architecture pioneered by the startup yields 99.9% accuracy for a two-qubit circuit. Eventually, approximately TK million will be needed to work in tandem to achieve speeds that are faster than conventional computers–to give a sense of where the industry is at, the quantum computer with the most qubits built so far, by IBM, only has 433.. But cofounder and lead researcher Leon Ding says the findings of his research are notable because it presents a qubit architecture that’s the first major alternative to the standard circuits used since 2007. Plus, lower error rates could make quantum computers less complex and require fewer numbers of these circuits, he says. The next milestone for the startup is to increase the number of qubits in one of its systems while retaining fewer errors.

Atlantic Quantum also announced last week a $1.25 million contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory to build quantum processors for national defense purposes. Other recent highlights for the budding startup include its first R&D facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts where a chandelier-looking dilution refrigerator powers its quantum computers, and in June it opened a subsidiary in Sweden for chip fabrication. Additionally, CEO Kannan says that major tech companies like IBM and Google will have a hard time catching up to its designs, as his company controls most of the key patents for them.

“They probably should, but I mean, we own a lot of the IP around it, so they can’t,” he says. “It’s not so easy, I would say to just flick your fingers and start using that qubit… That’s where a lot of our key IP lies as well, is that we have a way of controlling these qubits that is much simpler than the standard.

This article was first published on and all figures are in USD.

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