Establishing World-Record Coherence Times on Nuclear Spin qubits made from neutral atoms

Mickey McDonald, Senior Quantum Engineer

Coherence Times Matter

When building a quantum computer, the need to isolate qubits from environmental effects must be balanced against the need to engineer site-specific, controllable interactions with external fields. In our paper recently published in Nature Communications, we show results from our first-generation quantum computing system called Phoenix, which successfully navigates these competing requirements while demonstrating the capability to load more than 100 qubits. The most notable achievement we describe in this paper is the long coherence times of each of our qubits. Coherence is a term used to describe how long a qubit maintains its quantum state or encoded information. It’s important because longer coherence times mean fewer limitations on running deep circuits, and error-correction schemes have more time to detect and correct errors through mid-circuit measurements. On Phoenix, we set a new high water mark for coherence time.

Ramsey-echo measurements performed on an array of 21 qubits exhibit high contrast across tens of seconds, indicating a dephasing rate of T2echo = 40 +/- 7 seconds - the longest coherence time ever demonstrated on a commercial platform.

Achieving long coherence times requires that a qubit interact minimally with its environment, but this requirement often comes with a drawback: it is usually the case that the more weakly a qubit interacts with its environment, the more difficult it is to couple that qubit to whatever control fields are being used to drive interactions required to perform quantum computation. We manage these competing requirements by using a clever choice of neutral atom-based qubit, and by performing single-qubit control using software-configurable dynamic lasers which can be steered and actuated with sub-micron spatial accuracy and sub-microsecond timing precision.

Simultaneous Control of Qubits 

Our software-configurable optical control scheme allows Phoenix to simultaneously drive arbitrary single-qubit gate operations on all qubits within a single column or row in parallel, while at the same time maintaining coherence times longer than any yet demonstrated on a commercial platform, with a measured T2echo = 40 +/- 7 seconds.

A high-level drawing of Phoenix. Qubits are trapped within a vacuum cell and controlled using software-configurable dynamic lasers projected through a high-numerical aperture microscope objective. Readout is performed by collecting scattered light through the same microscope objective onto a camera.

Our system encodes quantum information, i.e. the qubit states |0> and |1>, in two of the nuclear spin states of a single, uncharged strontium atom. This kind of qubit encoding has two key advantages. First, because both qubit states exist in the electronic ground state, the time it takes for one state to spontaneously decay to the other (AKA the spin-relaxation time “T1”) is effectively infinite. We demonstrate this on Phoenix by making spin relaxation measurements out to several seconds and confirming that the relative populations in each state remain unchanged to the limits of measurement precision.

The spin relaxation time (known as “T1”) describes how long it takes for a qubit initially prepared in one qubit state to decay to another. A short T1 would manifest as a line which starts near 1 and drifts downward. That our measured population can be fit with a horizontal line with no apparent downward drift indicates that our spin relaxation time is far longer than our longest measurement time.

The second key advantage of nuclear spin qubits is that because the qubit states have such similar energies, they are nearly identically affected by external fields. This means that perturbations, such as those induced by externally applied trapping light, will affect both qubit states in the same way. Because these perturbations are common-mode, they do not impact the system’s overall coherence - a feature which fundamentally enables our world-record coherence times.

Our Path Forward

This paper describing Phoenix demonstrates several key technological innovations necessary for the construction of a large-scale, commercial quantum computer: long coherence times, the ability to drive arbitrary single qubit operations across large portions of the array in parallel, and the ability to trap 100+ qubits (and far beyond in the future). As we develop our second-generation quantum computers, we will build on the proven architecture and successes demonstrated on Phoenix to scale up to systems with fidelities and qubit numbers high enough to solve problems that cannot be solved with classical computers. Stay tuned and sign up for our Tech Perspectives blog series to learn more!

Moor Insights & Strategy- INSIDER PODCAST - with Chief Analyst Patrick Moorhead and CEO Rob Hays

An insightful conversation between Chief Analyst Patrick Moorhead and our CEO Rob Hays on the Insider Podcast. Patrick and Rob dive into what's on the horizon as quantum computing evolves: quantum scalability, roadmaps, QaaS (quantum as-a-service), on-prem vs. off-prem, investments, market consolidation, quantum ecosystem, and more.

Atom Computing Raises $60M Series B to Build Second-Generation Quantum Computing Systems

January 20, 2022 — BERKELEY, Calif. — Atom Computing, the creators of the first quantum computer made of nuclear-spin qubits from optically-trapped neutral atoms, today announced closure of a $60M Series B round. Third Point Ventures led the round, followed by Prime Movers Lab and insiders including Innovation Endeavors, Venrock and Prelude Ventures. Following the completion of their first 100-qubit quantum computing system with world-record 40 second coherence times, Atom Computing will use this new investment to build their second-generation quantum computing systems and commercialize the technology.

“Atom Computing designed and built our first-generation machine, Phoenix, in less than two years and our team was the fastest to deliver a 100-qubit system,” said Rob Hays, CEO and President, Atom Computing. “We gained valuable learnings from the system and have proven the technology. The investment announced today accelerates the commercialization opportunities and we look forward to bringing this to market.”

With this new level of investment, the company will turn its focus to developing much larger systems that are required to run commercial use-cases with paradigm-shifting compute performance.

“We’ve seen a tremendous amount of investor interest in what many are starting to believe is a more promising way to scale quantum computers – neutral atoms. Our technology advancements and this investment gives us the runway to continue our focus on delivering the most scalable and reliable quantum computers,” added Hays.

Curtis McKee, Partner at Third Point Ventures, will join the Board of Directors. Curtis brings a wealth of IT, security, and business development expertise to the company.

“Atom Computing’s design approach with neutral atoms is notably differentiated and has breakout potential to leapfrog competitors in the quantum race,” said Curtis McKee, Partner at Third Point Ventures. “They bring together a unique combination of best-in-class executive and quantum engineering teams. We look forward to partnering with them as they lead the next era of computing.”

“Quantum computing will impact billions of lives, revolutionizing everything from drug discovery and financial modeling, to predicting climate change and the development of new, life-changing materials,” said Gaetano Crupi, Partner at Prime Movers Lab. “We have been tracking this technology closely and believe we have found the right team and approach to scalable quantum computers with Atom Computing.”

To learn more about Atom Computing visit: https://atom-computing.com.


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ABOUT ATOM COMPUTING

At Atom Computing, we’re our customers’ biggest fans on the journey of discovery. We’re obsessed with creating the world’s most scalable and reliable quantum computers—so companies and researchers have the computing power they need for life-changing breakthroughs. Through using nuclear-spin qubits formed from neutral atoms, we’re on the fastest and easiest path to making quantum real. Learn more at atom-computing.com, and follow our journey on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook.

ABOUT THIRD POINT

Since 2000, Third Point Ventures, the venture capital arm of the asset manager Third Point LLC, has pursued opportunities in multistage investments in private companies with exceptional management teams, sustainable technical advantages, optimal timing, and in opportunities where risk/reward are in balance based on disciplined selection, structure, and entry valuation.  We bring deep technical expertise, a strong network of relationships, extensive go-to-market experience, and insights from our decades of global public markets investing to add value to our partners throughout their journey from idea to IPO and beyond. Information about Third Point Ventures and our investments may be found at https://www.thirdpointventures.com/.

ABOUT PRIME MOVERS LAB

Prime Movers Lab invests in breakthrough scientific startups founded by Prime Movers, the inventors who transform billions of lives. We invest in companies reinventing energy, transportation, infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture and human augmentation. Portfolio investments span in-space transportation, industrial solar heat, ag tech, brain upgrades, nano-structured materials, wafer slicing, prosthetics, 3D printing, mobility, longevity and AI. For more information, please visit https://www.primemoverslab.com.

Media Contact: 
Ashley Kusowski
Director, Marketing & Communications
ashley@atom-computing.com
919.704.0537

Veteran Quantum Computing Executives Join Atom Computing to Lead Commercialization and Growth

November 4, 2021 — Berkeley, CA — Atom Computing, a quantum computing company obsessed with helping companies and researchers reach their next big breakthrough, today announces two new quantum veterans joining, Denise Ruffner as Chief Business Officer and Justin Ging as Chief Product Officer. Denise and Justin round out Atom Computing’s leadership team of technical and industry experts including CEO Rob Hays, Founder & CTO Ben Bloom, Co-Founder & Chief Scientist Jonathan King, Chief Control Systems Engineer Robin Coxe, and Marketing Communications Director Ashley Kusowski. Together, they will drive the company’s commercialization of Phoenix, a 100-qubit quantum system, and quantum solutions roadmap.

“I’m thrilled that Denise and Justin see the scalability of our technology roadmap and have decided to bring their unique skills in quantum computing and business leadership experience to our team as we prepare to launch our solutions into the market,” said Rob Hays, CEO and President, Atom Computing. “They each express a fierce belief in the power of quantum computing to change the world and a passion to help our partners and customers solve the problems that matter most to them.”

Denise Ruffner joins as Chief Business Officer, responsible for customer and partner ecosystem strategy and engagements. Denise previously led business development at IonQ. She brings more than 20 years of experience in deep tech and sales leadership at start-ups and IBM Quantum. Denise’s broad industry relationships and commitment to helping others is critical in building the deep partnerships required to make quantum computing invaluable to end users. Denise also serves as the President of Women in Quantum, a rapidly growing organization dedicated to creating a community for the advancement of women in the quantum field. Today she is hosting a Women In Quantum panel discussion at the Inside Quantum Technology Fall event in NYC.

Justin Ging joins as Chief Product Officer, responsible for product management and customer experience for Atom Computing’s quantum solutions portfolio. Justin comes from Honeywell Quantum Solutions where he spent the past few years leading commercialization and business development for their quantum business unit. He has 20 years of product management, product marketing and sales expertise at leading technology companies including Samsung and Aptina Imaging.

Denise and Justin join the fellow quantum enthusiasts on the Atom Computing leadership team dedicated to making quantum computing real.

To learn more about Atom Computing visit: https://atom-computing.com.


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ABOUT ATOM COMPUTING
At Atom Computing, we’re our customers’ biggest fans on the journey of discovery. We’re obsessed with creating the world’s most scalable and reliable quantum computers—so companies and researchers have the computing power they need for life-changing breakthroughs. Through using nuclear-spin qubits formed from neutral atoms, we’re on the fastest and easiest path to making quantum real. Learn more at atom-computing.com, and follow our journey on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook.

Media Contact: 
Ashley Kusowski
Director, Marketing & Communications
ashley@atom-computing.com
919.704.0537

Atom Computing Unveils First-Generation Quantum Computing System — Appoints New CEO After Closing $15 Million in Series A Funding 

July 21, 2021 — Berkeley, CA — Atom Computing, a fast-growing quantum computing start-up announces its transition into the next phase of growth after closing $15M in Series A funding. Atom Computing is the first company to build nuclear-spin qubits out of an alkaline earth element. Today the company unveils its first-generation quantum computing system, Phoenix, a 100-atom system showcasing astonishing stability. This innovative breakthrough demonstrates Atom Computing’s ability to produce quantum systems with unprecedented stability at scale. 

Taking the helm, Rob Hays, computing industry veteran, is appointed CEO, President and member of Atom Computing’s Board of Directors. Meanwhile, Co-founder and CTO, Ben Bloom, Ph.D., will continue leading Atom Computing’s engineering team to develop and execute the roadmap for scalable quantum computing systems. Rob was most recently Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer for Lenovo’s Infrastructure Solutions Group where he led the growth and profitability strategy for Lenovo’s data center products and services. Rob also served at Intel for more than 20 years, where he was Vice President and General Manager responsible for leading Intel’s Xeon processor roadmaps, resulting in strong market leadership.

“Quantum computing has accelerated to a point where it is no longer 10 years out. The scalability and stability of our systems gives us confidence that we will be able to lead the industry to true quantum advantage,” said Rob Hays, CEO and President, Atom Computing. “We will be able to solve complex problems that have not been practical to address with classical computing, even with the exponential performance gains of Moore’s Law and massively-scalable cluster architectures.”

Atom Computing secured more than $15M in Series A funding which includes investment from leading venture capital firms: Venrock, Innovation Endeavors and Prelude Ventures. In addition, the National Science Foundation awarded the company three grants. These investments enabled Atom Computing to assemble a team of brilliant quantum physicists and design engineers with experience across various disciplines and applications to help develop the company’s first quantum computing system. 

The company’s first-generation quantum computing system, Phoenix, is currently capable of trapping 100 atoms in a vacuum chamber with optical tweezers. Phoenix is able to rearrange and manipulate their quantum states with lasers. The system demonstrates exceptionally stable qubits at scale, with coherence times that are orders of magnitude greater than ever reported.

“Atom Computing has a deep focus on scalable platforms compatible with error correction,” said Ben Bloom, Co-founder and CTO, Atom Computing. “We’ve been able to focus on building a one-of-a-kind system that exists nowhere else in the world. Even within the first few months of Phoenix's operation, we have measured performance levels never before reported in any scalable quantum system.” 

“I’m honored to lead this amazing team who has accomplished so much in the early stages of the company with a modest investment compared to what others have made. Combining the best of modern classical computing with quantum computing will allow us to reach new heights in science and engineering,” Hays added. 

Additionally, Bill Jeffrey, Ph.D., joins the Board of Directors of Atom Computing, bringing more than 30 years of executive leadership expertise in developing advanced technologies. Bill is CEO of SRI International, a leading research and development organization serving government and industry. He also has executive experience with HRL Laboratories, NIST, OSTP and DARPA. Bill’s experience working with government bodies and the industry to develop new technology will be invaluable to building Atom Computing’s business. 

To learn more about Atom Computing visit the company website. 

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Atom Computing is a growing start-up company focused on one mission: Deliver scalable quantum computers that can solve some of the most daunting problems ever attempted by man or machine. Our incredible team of physicists and engineers are building quantum computers out of optically trapped neutral atoms. To find out more visit https://www.atom-computing.com/company/, follow us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook.

Media Contact:
Ashley Kusowski
Director, Marketing Communications 
ashley@atom-computing.com
(919) 701-8035 ext. 727