Miniaturized key component for quantum computer

 In Computing, Cutting edge technology

A team from the universities of Sydney (Australia), Stanford (USA) and Microsoft has miniaturized a component that is essential for building a real quantum computer.

According to the team, the device is the first practical application of a new phase of matter, discovered in 2006, and awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2016 – so-called topological insulators.

In addition to the familiar phases of matter – solids, liquids, and gases – topological insulators are materials that do not conduct electricity inside their structures, but have surfaces that function as conductors.

These materials were already seen as the main way to build the circuits necessary for the interaction between quantum systems and classical systems, which is vital for the construction of a practical quantum computer.

“It’s not just about qubits when it comes to building blocks that are fundamental to quantum machines. Producing large-scale quantum computers will also need a revolution in classical computing and device engineering. Even if we had millions of qubits today, it is not clear if we have the classic technology to control them. Making a large-scale quantum computer reality will require the invention of new devices and techniques in the quantum-classical interface, “explains Professor David Reilly.

Microwave Circulator

The new component, called a microwave circulator, acts as a transit circle for electrons, ensuring that electrical signals propagate only in one direction, clockwise or counterclockwise, as needed.


The microwave minicirculator measures 19.41mm in diameter. [Image: Alice Mahoney / University of Sydney]


There are similar devices in cell phone stations and radar systems, and they will be needed in large quantities on quantum computers.

The major limitation is that current circulators are bulky objects, roughly the size of your hand. This innovation represents the miniaturization of the common circulator by a factor of 1,000.

This miniaturization opens the way for many circulators to be integrated into a chip and manufactured in large quantities that will be needed for the construction of quantum computers.

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