IBM scientists have announced a jump forward in practical quantum computing, claiming to have knocked down two barriers to adoption.
These "key obstacles" are error detection and scalable design. IBM said that the company is now in a position to detect and deal with bit-flip and phase-flip errors at the same time, adding that the best its rivals can manage is one at a time.
Scalability also puts the firm above the competition, according to IBM, which said that a new lattice design is an improvement on rival Google's grid approach.
The full results of IBM's studies will be published in the 29 April edition of the scientific journal Nature Communications.
"Quantum computing could be potentially transformative, enabling us to solve problems that are impossible or impractical to solve today," said Arvind Krishna, senior vice president and director of IBM Research.
"While quantum computers have traditionally been explored for cryptography, one area we find very compelling is the potential for practical quantum systems to solve problems in physics and quantum chemistry that are unsolvable today.
"This could have enormous potential in materials or drug design, opening up a new realm of applications."
IBM said that its advances could allay concerns about the longevity of Moore's Law, explaining that the use of 'quantum bits', or 'qubits', could give a small footprint machine the power to outperform the Top 500 supercomputers.
IBM's qubit circuit is based on a square lattice of four superconducting qubits on a single quarter-inch square chip that allows the dual detection of errors and the ability to scale upwards relatively simply.
"Up until now, researchers have been able to detect bit-flip or phase-flip quantum errors, but never the two together," said Jay Gambetta, a manager in IBM's quantum computing group.
"Previous work in this area, using linear arrangements, only looked at bit-flip errors, offering incomplete information on the quantum state of a system and making them inadequate for a quantum computer.
"Our four qubit results take us past this hurdle by detecting both types of quantum errors, and can be scalable to larger systems as the qubits are arranged in a square lattice as opposed to a linear array."
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