QuEra, a quantum computing startup founded by researchers from Harvard and MIT, recently released what may be the most ambitious quantum technology roadmap we’ve seen yet. 

The company plans on releasing a quantum computer with 100 logical qubits and 10,000 physical qubits by 2026. It also claims this planned system will demonstrate “practical quantum advantage,” meaning they’d be capable of useful computation feats that classical, binary computers aren’t.

Trapped atoms

The roadmap outlines a series of mile markers which, if achieved, would position QuEra at the forefront of the quantum computing industry. IBM, oft-considered the current quantum market leader, has a similar system planned for launch in 2027 while Google and Microsoft.

In 2024 and 2025, according to QuEra, the company will develop systems with 256 and 3,000 physical qubits on the way to scaling to 10,000 and beyond.

One of the major hurdles to scaling quantum computing is error-correction. Quantum systems rely on qubits for calculations. These are somewhat analogous to the “bits” in a binary system but, due to the nature of quantum physics, they’re extremely error prone.

QuEra’s quantum computing architecture differs significantly from industry peers such as IBM’s — which uses superconducting charge qubits called transmons — in that it uses atoms trapped by laser tweezers as qubits.

Per a QuEra press release:

“By implementing error correction protocols, quantum computers can maintain the integrity of quantum information over longer periods, enabling them to perform complex calculations that are beyond the reach of classical computers.”

Quantum advantage

There’s currently no consensus in the scientific community as to when or even if “quantum advantage” will be reached at a practical level. Scientists have conducted myriad experiments using quantum computers to solve problems considered unsolvable by classical computers, but the majority of these involved running specific algorithms with little or no practical use outside of laboratory tests.

Recent advances however, including those made by the QuEra team, indicate that current progress, once scaled, could bring about quantum computing systems capable of performing calculations far beyond the capabilities of any existing or theoretically plausible binary supercomputer.

This quantum revolution, if realized, is expected to have significant implications for cryptography, fintech, chemistry, artificial intelligence, transportation and myriad other fields.