Chinese Have Achieved Quantum Supremacy

December 5, 2020

Chinese scientists claim to have built a quantum computer that is able to perform computations nearly 100 trillion times faster than the world’s most advanced supercomputers from Japan’s world-leading Fugaku supercomputer to various computers in the United States and 10 billion times faster than Google’s quantum prototype, according to Gadgets 360.

What is quantum supremacy? It’s when a quantum computer can outperform conventional computers on at least one type of task. Until now, only Google’s Sycamore device was about to achieve such a task, according to

“This is the first independent confirmation of Google’s claim that you really can achieve quantum supremacy,” says theoretical computer scientist Scott Aaronson of the University of Texas at Austin. “That’s exciting.”

On December 3, Chinese scientists reported to Science News that they have achieved quantum supremacy. A photonic quantum computer, which harnessed particles of light or protons and performed calculations that’s impossible for a conventional computer.

Jiuzhang. Image via Science News

Named after an ancient Chinese mathematical text, Jiuzhang can perform a calculation in 200 seconds that would take more than half a billion years on the world’s fastest non-quantum computer in Japan, according to Science News.

“My first impression was, ‘wow,’” stated quantum physicist Fabio Sciarrino of Sapienza University of Rome.

According to Science News, Google’s device, called Sycamore, is based on tiny quantum bits made of superconducting materials, which conduct energy without resistance. In contrast, Jiuzhang consists of a complex array of optical devices that shuttle photons around. Those devices include light sources, hundreds of beam splitters, dozens of mirrors, and 100 photon detectors.

Although Google was the first to break the quantum supremacy barrier, the milestone is “not a single-shot achievement,” stated quantum physicist Chao-Yang Lu of the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei. “It’s a continuous competition between constantly improved quantum hardware and constantly improved classical simulation.”

Feature Image via NewScientist

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