A new study elaborated by a team of researchers argues that cosmic radiation could hinder the development of a quantum computing system, forcing scientists to move the research underground or to develop new shielding solutions.
Qubits are essential for quantum computing since they carry quantum information. What makes them unique is the ability to maintain a state called quantum superposition, featuring traits of two states at the same time, which makes them incredibly fast in comparison to the binary system employed by regular parallel computing systems.
Integrity is critical
The efficiency of qubits is tied to their integrity or the amount of time during which they can maintain the quantum information and the superposition state intact. Once one or both of them are lost due to decoherence, the processing speed will decrease at a fast pace.
According to the new study, low-level background radiation, which seemed to be harmless, and some cosmic rays are strong enough to trigger decoherence events. If the influence isn’t removed, it could limit the performance of qubits to milliseconds. It is estimated that limit could be reached in a few years.
New shielding technology
It is possible to mitigate the negative effects, but researchers will have to develop new shielding technologies that could be used to keep the qubits and quantum computers safe. Even the most practical quantum computers will have to be shielded or placed underground to maintain their performance.
The sensitivity to radiation is quite surprising in the case of qubits since they are also high-performance superconductors. By understanding the effects of radiation on the other tools could be improved, including superconductive sensors that are mounted on spacecraft. Previous research inferred that qubits could be affected by low-level radiation and but the study offers conclusive proof.
Detailed information about the new research was published in a scientific journal.