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Amazon hosts a first in Quantum computing: Aquila, a neutral-atom Quantum computer – Interesting Engineering

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is going to be hosting Aquila, a quantum computer (processor) in its special cloud server called Amazon Braket.
This is a first for quantum computing, where there will be access to the processor directly from the cloud. The company providing the quantum computer is QuEra, and it has been working towards a partnership with Amazon's AWS for some time.
For some time, researchers have been working on quantum computing, which has grown in tandem with the science behind quantum processing units (QPUs).
Researchers in quantum computing require a space where they can collaborate, share information, and start new projects. This capability is provided by AWS's Amazon Braket quantum computing cloud service.
It maintains 200 services from data centers all over the world. The services are offered to companies who want to run websites, store data, process data, and run transactions. AWS also can process Artificial Intelligence routines, and run Internet of Things systems.
The cloud is also known as distributed computing. It is called that because data is distributed across a number of remote computers, called servers. The internet hosts the servers and those servers are where the data is stored. The cloud can run the software, store large amounts of data, run algorithms, and process all kinds of data, all in computers removed from the local computer (such as your computer, phone, or tablet).
AWS is one of the largest cloud services globally. Amazon Braket is designed especially for researchers to access quantum datasets. Braket is in the cloud, and hosts other quantum processors, as well as the unique Aquila quantum processor.
Aquila is the first accessible neutral-atom quantum processor. Aquila is designed to solve mathematical problems known as Analog Hamiltonian Simulation (AHS).
In essence, this can be any kind of task, like rotating a lattice or working on a problem in high energy physics, that can then be expressed as a specific mathematical object, known as a Hamiltonian.
This is heady stuff to be sure, but the quantum computer can process this information nearly instantaneously. An object, like an algorithm, can be simultaneously run along with a separate task, all at speeds much faster than a traditional computer.
Where an ordinary computer chip uses bits, which act like tiny switches that can be either in the on (1) or off (0) position, the bits in a quantum computer can be in what’s called ‘superposition’ – where they’re on and off, or somewhere in between, all at the same time.
Qubits can also take advantage of entanglement — when qubits have a relationship to each other that prevents them from acting independently. Quantum particles that are entangled share a state (such as spin or electric charge) and this relationship continues even when the particles are physically far apart.
These bits of computer information are called qubits, and QuEra has developed a processor that can run 256 qubits.
There are different ways to create a qubit.
One way to create a qubit is by manipulating the spin of individual electrons in certain materials, using microwaves, light, and magnets. They can also be created using the energy levels of electrons in neutral atoms or ions as qubits. Using lasers, these can be “excited” to a higher energy level and assigned values based on their energy state. Other methods for generating qubits involve photons, time, or superconducting materials.
There are only a few quantum processors that have taken advantage of the many methods there are for developing a qubit.
In the case of Aquila, Qubits are laser developed in a vacuum chamber, which is isolated from outside forces and then chilled to temperatures that can be close to absolute zero (-270 C). Shielded from light and heat, the qubit sits on a computer chip, in the dark and cold.
When isolated and chilled the qubit becomes a superconductor that when scaled up lets electrons flow freely, behaves like a single atom, and then becomes subject to quantum mechanics.
Aquila is a 256-bit neutral-atom quantum processor. According to AWS:
"The QuEra QPU operates by trapping atoms with lasers, arranging them in programmable one or two-dimensional layouts, and inducing interatomic interactions via van der Waals forces. The qubit consists of the ground state of the atom and a highly excited state, known as a Rydberg state."
"By exciting atoms from the ground to the excited state, the QuEra QPU is able to realize a phenomenon known as Rydberg blockade, whereby the quantum states of neighboring qubits are fixed by the state of a control qubit. Furthermore, customers can dynamically tune driving field parameters, thus controlling qubit states and their interactions."
The Aquila QPU is designed to handle calculations for optimization. This means simply that the qubits are used to aid other devices in becoming more efficient and streamlined.
Quantum computers run 158 million times faster than the world's fastest supercomputer, the Frontier supercomputer.
Frontier is a supercomputer maintained in the United States. Frontier is a Cray model computer housed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It can run 1,200,000 petaflops per second. A petaflop is one thousand million million (10 to the 15th power) floating point operations per second.
The quantum computer can accomplish in four minutes what would take some supercomputers 10,000 years to process. That is some fast computing. That is what happens when you move at the level of electrons and atoms.
Amazon has made the commitment to host the Aquila neutral-atom quantum processor, looking towards a wide range of future development in the quantum computing industry. Of the project, Amazon's focus has been on providing better technologies in a field of technologies that are getting increasingly crowded.
“AWS’s quantum computing strategy is focused on customer choice. With Aquila on Amazon Braket, we’re bringing even more choice to customers who want to explore different technologies by bringing neutral atom quantum computing capabilities to AWS for the first time,” said Richard Moulds, general manager, Amazon Braket.
“It’s important to remember that there is a broad set of quantum computing technologies in the market. From our perspective, Amazon Braket is the best place to explore different approaches.”
QuEra is approaching the partnership with a great deal of hope for a robust use of its technology, QuEra's CEO Alex Keating told Interesting Engineering (IE) regarding the project.
“Launching Aquila on the Amazon Braket cloud is a major step for our company. This is now the first machine of its kind which is available to be used by anyone. So it’s an exciting moment for QuEra, but it’s also a milestone for the tech industry more generally," he said.
"We have a number of industrial use cases in mind already, and have been trialing the technology privately to develop those. But now that Aquila is the first neutral atom quantum computer available to all, pretty much any company can come forward with additional use cases, and find their own new ways to put the calculating power of this machine to use for advancing their own business. It’s very exciting to us, and we’re proud to be the first to make it possible.”
An 80-year-old has just taken the entrance examination for a data science degree at a prestigious university.
The Boston-based company has developed this technology founded on cutting-edge research from MIT and Harvard University.