A consortium led by Universal Quantum has been awarded a £7.5 million grant from Innovate UK’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to build a scalable quantum computer.
The vision is for a computer capable of correcting its own errors, with the technology to then be applied to high-impact problems in the aerospace industry.
Quantum bits – qubits – are prone to errors. The consortium is taking a cohesive approach, addressing the key issues to make a useful quantum computer at the software, hardware and end-user level.
Aside from Universal Quantum, a University of Sussex spinout company, the consortium brings together sector leaders covering key areas of quantum computing development.
The consortium includes end-user Rolls-Royce, supported by the Science and Technology Facilities Council Hartree Centre, quantum software developer Riverlane, supply chain partners Edwards, TMD Technologies (now acquired by Communications & Power Industries) and Diamond Microwave, commercialisation and dissemination experts Sia Partners and Qureca and world-class academic groups from Imperial College London and the University of Sussex.
Dr. Sebastian Weidt, co-founder and CEO at Universal Quantum and lecturer in quantum technologies at the University of Sussex, said: “Error correction is crucial to achieving anything really useful with quantum computers, so we are absolutely delighted to have been awarded this grant.
“This project is an important step forward, helping us to go from today’s proof of principle machines to scalable quantum computers that can solve some of the world’s most pressing computational challenges.”
Using Universal Quantum’s scalable hardware, Riverlane, STFC Hartree Centre and experts from Rolls- Royce will map a specific use case to Universal Quantum’s computer, solving a set of computational fluid dynamics problems in the aerospace sector.
Prof. Leigh Lapworth, Rolls-Royce Fellow in Computational Sciences, said: “We are excited to be part of this consortium and to be leading the work package on quantum computational fluid dynamics algorithms.
“We’re one of the world’s leading industrial technology companies, pioneering solutions to some of the world’s biggest technological challenges. CFD is crucial to meeting our ambitions, but it must be scalable, accurate and robust.
“These are cutting-edge challenges for a quantum CFD algorithm, and this unique consortium brings together the UK’s world-leading quantum computing experts to address them. The potential impacts of quantum CFD are immense, and we are grateful to Innovate UK for giving us the opportunity to pursue them.”
The specific test case for this project applies to combustion modelling, which is crucial to the development of sustainable aviation fuels and next-generation jet engines. But the target algorithm and its derivatives alone are used in more than 50% of CFD calculations worldwide.
Dr. Weidt concluded: “We still have a long way to go to achieve fault-tolerant quantum computing, but this consortium will allow us to make a big step towards unlocking the full commercial potential of quantum computers.”