Quantum computing
A quantum computer uses quantum mechanics phenomena such as ‘superposition’ and ‘entanglement’ to generate and manipulate subatomic particles like electrons or photons. Image Credit: Pixbay

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi is working to build a quantum computer, which will mark an important computing milestone for the region.

Technology Innovation Institute (TII), the dedicated ‘applied research’ pillar of Abu Dhabi’s newly-established Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), announced on Tuesday that its Quantum Research Centre (QRC) will construct the quantum computer in the UAE capital.

The project will be led by chief researcher, Professor Jose Ignacio Latorre, and it will be conducted in collaboration with Barcelona-based Qilimanjaro Quantum Tech researchers.

Faisal Al Bannai

“We are on the cusp of a new era with the advent of quantum computing. We are proud to embark on building one of these wonderful machines that will help us in various fields — from discovering new medicines to making new material to designing better batteries to various Artificial Intelligence applications,” said Faisal Al Bannai, the ATRC secretary general.

A quantum computer uses quantum mechanics phenomena such as ‘superposition’ and ‘entanglement’ to generate and manipulate subatomic particles like electrons or photons — quantum bits also known as ‘qubits’. These are used to create exponentially stronger processing powers, thus allowing for complex calculations to be completed faster than is possible with powerful supercomputers.

Process underway

Jose Ignacio Latorre

Prof. Latorre explained that preparatory work has already begun. “The first step in the process is to build a laboratory, equip it and complete installation of the cleanroom equipment, all of which is on track. Once done, the first qubits will be prepared, characterised and benchmarked. The first ‘Made-in-Abu Dhabi’ simple quantum chips should come by the end of this summer,” he added.

According to the professor, there are several technologies to construct quantum computers, including superconducting qubits, ion traps, optical qubits and spin dots. QRC has opted to use superconducting qubits, which is the same technology that Google and IBM use in building their own quantum computers.

QRC role

QRC is one of seven dedicated research centres at ATRC’s TII. Other research areas include autonomous robotics, cryptography, advanced materials, digital security, directed energy and secure systems. Promoting transformative technologies to accelerate change, ATRC plays a strategic role in directing, funding and leading emerging fields of research and technology, while stimulating and sustaining a knowledge-based economy that reinforces Abu Dhabi and the broader UAE’s position as a global innovation hub.