Silicon-Based Quantum Computing

By Kihara Kimachia

The Future of High-Performance Computing

In the realm of advanced computing, quantum computing has emerged as a revolutionary technology, promising to solve complex problems that are currently beyond the reach of classical computers. At the heart of this revolution is the development of quantum chips, the core components that drive these powerful machines. Among the various materials being explored for quantum chips, silicon has emerged as a promising candidate.

Silicon-based quantum computing leverages the same material that has been the backbone of traditional computing for decades. This approach to quantum computing involves encoding information in the quantum states of electrons held in silicon-based quantum dots. The potential of silicon-based quantum computing lies in its compatibility with existing semiconductor technology, which could accelerate the mass production of quantum chips and their integration into the current digital infrastructure.

In this article, we delve into the world of silicon-based quantum computing, exploring its advantages, the challenges it faces, and the companies leading the way in this exciting field. We also look at recent advances and the future prospects of this technology. Our focus is on the most recent research and developments from 2022 and 2023, providing a fresh and up-to-date perspective on this rapidly evolving field.

Silicon-Based Quantum Computing Research Companies

As we delve deeper into the world of silicon-based quantum computing, it’s crucial to highlight the key players in the industry. These companies are not only shaping the future of quantum computing but are also pioneering the use of silicon in this field. Let’s take a closer look at five such companies and their contributions.

1. Intel

Overview: Intel, a titan in the semiconductor industry, has been a significant player in the development of silicon-based technologies for decades.

Research Focus: Intel’s research in quantum computing is broad, encompassing various aspects of quantum technologies. However, their recent focus has been on silicon-based quantum chips.

Recent Advancements: In 2023, Intel announced its newest silicon-based quantum chip, marking a significant milestone in their quantum journey. The details of this development are yet to be fully disclosed.

2. SemiQon

Overview: SemiQon is a Finnish company that was spun off from the research institute VTT. Despite being a newcomer to the field, SemiQon has already made significant strides in silicon-based quantum computing.

Research Focus: SemiQon’s approach involves placing the control electronics and the qubits on the same chip through monolithic integration. They are working with silicon spin qubits and aim to bring the classical electronics for control and readout of the qubits on the same chip, which will work at cryogenic temperatures.

Recent Advancements: SemiQon’s innovation is expected to save a lot of space and wiring complexity. The company’s goal is to build the best possible quantum processors with as many qubits as possible, aiming to build millions of qubits on a chip, including error correction, to achieve an actual quantum advantage. 

3. PsiQuantum

Overview: PsiQuantum is a company that is making significant strides in silicon-based quantum computing.

Research Focus: PsiQuantum’s approach involves using photons as qubits. They are currently working on a silicon-based modular chip.

Recent Advancements: PsiQuantum expects to have a feature-complete chip by the end of 2023. The company aims to assemble all of its silicon chips into a building-scale, high-performance computer-like system. 

4. IBM

Overview: IBM, a long-standing player in the tech industry, has been making steady progress in quantum computing.

Research Focus: While IBM has long pursued superconducting qubits, the company is also exploring other technologies, including silicon-based quantum computing.

Recent Advancements: IBM is expected to debut its Heron processor in 2023, which will have just 133 qubits but of the highest quality. Each chip will be able to connect directly to other Heron processors, heralding a shift from single quantum computing chips toward “modular” quantum computers built from multiple processors connected together. 

5. Google Quantum AI

Overview: Along with IBM, Google Quantum AI is a leading player in full-stack capabilities in quantum computing.

Research Focus: Google Quantum AI is advancing the state of the art of quantum computing and developing the tools for researchers to operate beyond classical capabilities.

Recent Advancements: Google’s software and hardware are specifically designed for building novel quantum algorithms to help solve near-term applications for practical problems.

The Future of Silicon-Based Quantum Computing

As we venture into the realm of quantum computing, the future of silicon-based quantum computing is becoming increasingly promising. The potential of this technology is vast, and its development is being driven by a combination of academic research, corporate investment, and technological advancements.

Silicon-based quantum computing is on the cusp of a significant breakthrough. In 2023, the focus of quantum computing research has shifted from setting qubit records to developing practical hardware and achieving long-term goals. Companies like IBM are moving towards modular quantum computing, where multiple processors are connected together. This approach is expected to help quantum computers scale up significantly.

One of the most significant advancements in silicon-based quantum computing is the development of near error-free quantum computing. Researchers at the University of New South Wales have demonstrated that quantum operations can be performed with 99% accuracy. This achievement paves the way for large silicon-based quantum processors that are compatible with current semiconductor manufacturing technology.

The Finnish company SemiQon is also making strides in the field. They aim to build the best possible quantum processors with as many qubits as possible, with the goal of achieving an actual quantum advantage. Their approach involves placing the control electronics and the qubits on the same chip through monolithic integration, which saves a lot of space and wiring complexity.

The future of silicon-based quantum computing is not without challenges. As the technology scales up, issues such as error correction, qubit stability, and system integration will need to be addressed. However, the rapid pace of advancements in the field suggests that we may see general-purpose quantum computers earlier than anticipated just a few years ago.

Advantages of Silicon-Based Quantum Computing

Silicon-based quantum computing has several advantages over other quantum computing architectures, such as superconducting circuits. 


The primary advantage is the compatibility of silicon-based quantum computing with existing semiconductor technology. Silicon is the foundation of modern electronics and has a well-established manufacturing infrastructure. This compatibility allows for the potential integration of quantum and classical computing on the same chip, which could significantly simplify the design and operation of quantum computers.

Longer Qubit Coherence Times

Silicon-based quantum computing also offers the potential for longer qubit coherence times. Qubit coherence time is a measure of how long a qubit can maintain its quantum state, and it’s a critical factor in the performance of a quantum computer. Silicon-based qubits have shown promising results in this area, with some experiments demonstrating coherence times of several second.

Higher Qubit Densities

Another advantage of silicon-based quantum computing is the potential for higher qubit densities. Silicon quantum dots, which can be used as qubits, are much smaller than the superconducting circuits used in other quantum computing architectures. This could potentially allow for a much higher number of qubits to be packed onto a single chip, increasing the computational power of the quantum computer.

Higher Operating Temperatures

Finally, silicon-based quantum computing could potentially operate at higher temperatures than other quantum computing architectures. While all quantum computers currently require very low operating temperatures, there is ongoing research into silicon-based qubits that could operate at higher temperatures. This could simplify the cooling requirements of quantum computers and reduce their operational costs.

Challenges in Manufacturing Silicon-Based Quantum Computing Chips

Despite the promising future, there are significant challenges in manufacturing silicon-based quantum computing chips. These challenges range from the technical aspects of fabricating high-quality qubits to the logistical issues of integrating quantum and classical computing on the same chip.

Precision in Manufacturing

One of the main challenges is the need for extremely precise control over the manufacturing process. Quantum dots, which can be used as qubits, need to be fabricated with nanometer precision. Even small variations in the size or position of the quantum dots can significantly affect the performance of the qubits.

Achieving Low Error Rates

Quantum computing requires very high fidelity in the preparation, manipulation, and measurement of qubits. Achieving these high fidelities in a manufacturing environment is a significant challenge. Errors can occur during the operation of the qubits, leading to incorrect results. Therefore, achieving extremely low error rates is a critical requirement for the practical implementation of quantum computing.

Integration of Quantum and Classical Computing

While the integration of quantum and classical computing on the same chip has potential advantages, it also introduces additional complexity into the design and manufacturing process. The classical control electronics need to operate at room temperature, while the quantum bits need to be cooled to near absolute zero. This creates significant challenges in terms of thermal management and the physical layout of the chip.

Scaling Up Quantum Systems

As we move towards larger quantum systems, new challenges arise. These include the need for effective error correction techniques and the ability to maintain the quality of the qubits as the system size increases. There is also the challenge of interconnecting a large number of qubits in a way that allows for complex quantum computations.

Despite these challenges, there is ongoing research aimed at overcoming them. For example, researchers are exploring new fabrication techniques that could improve the precision and consistency of quantum dot fabrication. There is also ongoing research into error correction techniques that could mitigate the effects of errors in the qubits.

Recent Advances in Silicon-Based Quantum Computing

There have been several significant recent advances in silicon-based quantum computing. For example, in 2023, Intel announced the release of its newest quantum research chip, Tunnel Falls, a 12-qubit silicon chip. This chip is Intel’s most advanced silicon spin qubit chip to date and draws upon the company’s decades of transistor design and manufacturing expertise.

Another significant advance was the demonstration of a three-qubit phase-correcting code in silicon by researchers in Japan. This is a critical step towards the implementation of quantum error correction, which is necessary for the development of large-scale quantum computers.

These advances highlight the rapid progress being made in silicon-based quantum computing. While there are still many challenges to overcome, the field is moving forward at a rapid pace, and the potential benefits of silicon-based quantum computing are becoming increasingly clear.

The Role of Academia in Silicon-Based Quantum Computing

Academic institutions play a pivotal role in the advancement of silicon-based quantum computing. They serve as the breeding ground for innovative ideas, provide the necessary resources for extensive research, and foster collaborations with industry partners to translate theoretical concepts into practical applications.

Intel’s Collaboration with Universities

Intel, a leading player in the silicon-based quantum computing landscape, has been actively collaborating with academic institutions to advance quantum research. The Tunnel Falls 12-qubit silicon chip is being made available to the quantum research community.

Intel is also collaborating with the Laboratory for Physical Sciences (LPS) at the University of Maryland, College Park’s Qubit Collaboratory, a national-level Quantum Information Sciences (QIS) Research Center, to advance quantum computing research. This collaboration aims to democratize silicon spin qubits by enabling researchers to gain hands-on experience working with scaled arrays of these qubits.

Quantum Motion and Academia

Quantum Motion, a UK-based quantum computing company, is another example of academia-industry collaboration. The company, founded by academics from University College London and Oxford University, is leading national efforts to build the world’s first silicon-based universal quantum computer.

Siquance and Grenoble Alpes University

In France, Grenoble Alpes University is home to a spin-out company, Siquance, which is leading national efforts to build the world’s first silicon-based universal quantum computer. This is a significant step in bringing quantum computing into mainstream use.

The role of academia in silicon-based quantum computing is not limited to research and development. Universities also play a crucial role in training the next generation of quantum scientists and engineers, thus ensuring the sustainability of the field.

Bottom Line

The future of silicon-based quantum computing is promising, with significant advancements being made by both industry and academia. The advantages of silicon-based quantum computing, such as the potential for higher scalability and compatibility with existing silicon technology, make it a promising candidate for the realization of practical quantum computers.

However, there are still significant challenges to be overcome, particularly in the manufacturing process. The need for extremely precise control over the quantum states, as well as the difficulties in maintaining quantum coherence, present significant hurdles.

Despite these challenges, recent advances in silicon-based quantum computing are encouraging. The development of new silicon-based quantum chips by companies like Intel and SemiQon, as well as the ongoing research in academic institutions, are pushing the boundaries of what is possible in this exciting field.

The role of academia in advancing silicon-based quantum computing cannot be overstated. Through research, collaboration with industry, and training of future quantum scientists, academic institutions are playing a crucial role in shaping the future of quantum computing.

As we look to the future, the continued collaboration between industry and academia will be essential in overcoming the remaining challenges and realizing the full potential of silicon-based quantum computing. The journey to a practical quantum computer is a challenging one, but with each new advancement, we move one step closer to this exciting goal.

For more insights into the world of quantum computing, check out our other articles on Augmented Qubit.

About the Author: Kihara Kimachia

Kihara Kimachia has been a professional tech writer and digital marketing consultant for more than ten years. He has a great passion for technology and currently works freelance for several leading tech websites.

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