In today’s digital world, you can store and process all your information through a binary digit, or a bit in short. These digits can hold either the value “0” or “1”. Binary configuration works in many scenarios. For example, you can turn on or turn off your car, expect a head or a tail when you toss a coin up, and more. That said, some real-world scenarios require more than just 2 choices. How can you represent them digitally? That’s where Quantum Bits (QuBits) come in.
Read on as I tell you all about QuBits and the quantum physics principles behind their work. I’ll also wrap up with a quick overview of the current state of QuBits and what you can expect from them in the future.
First, let’s touch a bit on quantum computing, the paradigm within which you use QuBits.
What Is Quantum Computing?
Quantum computing is the next leap in technology where computers are based on the principles of quantum mechanics. Some of these principles are superposition, interference, and entanglement. Essentially, this area of technology explores how you can apply the behavior of subatomic particles, like protons and electrons, to computing.
To delve a bit into science, an atom is the smallest unit of matter, and it’s also indivisible. Atoms, in turn, contain subatomic particles like protons, neutrons, and electrons. These particles can also exist in more than one state at the same time.
How does this relate to quantum computing? Quantum computers rely on this principle of multiple states where each data bit can have more than one state simultaneously. Now, what are the benefits of leveraging this ability of data bits to hold more than one value?
3 Benefits of Quantum Computing
The ability to use multiple states opens up new ways of computing. In return, you’ll get multiple benefits. Here are 3 of these benefits:
1. Exceptionally High Speed
A key benefit of quantum computing is the unimaginable speeds and capabilities you get compared to the traditional ones used today. To give you an idea, quantum computing lets you do computations that take millions of years using your fastest computers in just minutes. For example, Google claimed they used quantum computing to perform a calculation in about 200 seconds that a supercomputer needs thousands of years to complete.
2. Parallel Processing
Quantum computers achieve such high computation speeds due to parallel processing, something that’s hard to implement now. When individual data bits can take more than one state, their capability increases multifold. In turn, this also boosts the overall processing power of quantum computers. Parallel processing also means quantum computers can tackle more complex problems and simulations.
3. Less Energy
Quantum computers are likely to consume less energy than traditional computers. That’s because they use quantum tunneling, so they can do more operations in a shorter time. Quantum computers also reduce power from 100 up to 1000 times. In return, this benefit can resolve the current debates around data centers consuming high energy.
You may wonder where and how you can see the benefits I discussed. Next, I’ll list some use cases of quantum computing.
Use Cases for Quantum Computing
Quantum computing is still in its early stages, but it’s slowly and steadily impacting many industries. Some of the potential areas where you can use quantum computing are:
- Growing cybersecurity
- Predicting natural disasters
- Creating financial models
- Increasing crop yield
- Optimizing traffic
- Developing medicines and vaccines
- Advancing artificial intelligence
- Manufacturing processes
All these benefits and use cases of quantum computing are possible because of QuBits. Wondering what QuBits are? I’ll discuss this next.
What Are QuBits?
QuBits are the bits that power a quantum computer. This is similar to bits used in traditional computers, but the key difference is that these bits can exist in more than one state at the same time. How is this possible? It uses many quantum physics principles and phenomena like superposition, interference, and entanglement.
Let’s take a look at these 3 quantum physics principles in more detail.
Superposition keeps one thing over another, so they coincide. When it comes to QuBits, this phenomenon also allows them to have multiple states simultaneously. You can manipulate or engineer QuBits through microwave beams and lasers to achieve this.
What does this mean to you? In simple terms, superposition processes information at a fraction of the time it takes the fastest computers to do today. For example, it takes many years for traditional computers to find all the prime factors of a 2048-bit number. Conversely, a quantum computer can do it in just minutes!
Superposition also enables other quantum phenomena–interference and entanglement.
Superposition allows a QuBit to be in different places at the same time, so it can get through problems much faster than the traditional bit.
Interference is the process of increasing or decreasing the amplitude as a result of superposition. This means QuBits can interfere with each other to amplify something or cancel out each other depending on their implementation. In this sense, you can imagine them to be like overlapping waves. The outcome of interference also depends on your application.
This phenomenon is the driving force behind the accelerated speeds and computation capabilities of quantum computers. It also allows you to bias the measurement of a QuBit until you reach your desired state or set of states.
Interference offers new ways of qualitatively processing information.
Entanglement is an ensemble of particles due to superposition. The phenomenon creates coherence between the particles. If a change happens to one of the particles, it will impact the other. That also happens even if the objects are spatially separated. You can also imagine this to be similar to a tango where individual dancers use identical steps and impact each other’s person despite being separated.
In quantum computing, multiple QuBits tend to entangle together to form a single system. This phenomenon also pools together the capabilities of individual QuBits to create unimaginable computational speeds and capabilities. As a user, you can perform computations and transactions at exponentially faster speeds.
Entanglement cuts down the processing power needed to analyze information transfer between QuBits.
All these concepts might get you dreaming about the future, but we’re still some years away from harnessing these benefits. For now, let’s go over the current state of QuBits.
The Current State of QuBits
McKinsey has come up with 5 states of maturity to depict the current state of quantum computing. Every company involved in this space falls into one of these states:
- Bystanders haven’t put any effort into quantum computing
- Beginners explore partnerships and the potential benefits of quantum computing
- Learners apply concrete steps like hiring people, researching the possibility of use-cases within the industry, etc.
- Professionals are beginning to see the results of quantum computing, like improved speeds and the ability to tackle complex computational problems
- Legends are creating value through quantum computing
Here’s a diagram from McKinsey to explain these states further.
At the time of writing this piece, most companies are in the Bystanders or Beginners phase only, and no commercial venture is in the Legends state. Some reasons behind this low adoption rate are:
- High costs of research
- Lack of readily-available experts
- The evolving state of the technology itself
That said, companies are always looking to garner a competitive advantage through innovation. That’s why the rate of adoption is increasing slowly but steadily.
Let’s now take a look at what the future of quantum computing is likely to be.
What to Expect in the Future
Well, good news! The future of quantum computing looks bright. Most private equity companies like Bessemer Venture Partners, Red Dot Capital Partners, and others are funding initiatives related to quantum computing. This is due to the huge benefits it offers.
In fact, the leading sectors in this space are technology, media, and telecom companies. That’s unsurprising, as these fields have always been pioneers of new technologies. Some of them are even looking to set up a cloud-based quantum service where businesses can enjoy the benefits of quantum computing for a fee. No setup or maintenance costs, just like other cloud services. I’m sure it won’t be long before you’ll read a post on Quantum-as-a-Service (QaaS).
QuBits are the building blocks of quantum computing. At this time, QuBits and the entire quantum industry are still evolving. This can change in the next 5 years, though, as companies continue looking for innovative ways to gain a competitive advantage. Quantum computing can also be the gateway for companies to get cutting-edge computation speeds and benefit from its advantages.. For now, though, you’ll have to wait for a few more years until you can leverage the true potential of quantum computing.
Until then, this article will help you understand more about the basics of quantum computing along with its benefits, use cases, and more. Hopefully, this guide also gave you a clearer idea of where QuBits stand now and where they’re going in the future.
Have more questions about QuBits? Check out the FAQ and Resources sections below!
Can I make a QuBit?
Yes. QuBits can be natural and engineered. The IBM Quantum systems, for example, use a type of QuBit called the superconducting transmon QuBit. This is made from superconducting materials like niobium and aluminum.
How can I calculate the value of one QuBit?
Calculating the value of a QuBit isn’t easy as it consists of infinite digits. One way to compare QuBits with classical bits is to measure the computation speed. For example, if a traditional computer can perform computation in one billionth of a second, QuBits can perform multiple transactions at the same time. Some experts also compute as follows: N qubits = 2 ^(N-3) bytes.
How many types of QuBits are there?
QuBits have many types. Here are a few to give you an idea.
- Spin QuBits.They behave like magnets, and you can spin them to change the states.
- Trapped Ions.Their values depend on their energy state.
- Photons.They can take vertical or horizontal polarization.
- Superconducting circuits.They can move clockwise or anti-clockwise.
Can QuBits have multiple values?
Yes, QuBits can take multiple values, beyond just the “0” and “1” of classical bits. It achieves this through a phenomenon called superposition. The phenomenon enables a QuBit to have the values of “0” and “1” at the same time. This capability makes QuBits so powerful, which enables them to do parallel processing. In turn, this helps to do more computations in a shorter period.
Do quantum computers exist?
Yes, quantum computers exist, but they’re not prevalent because the technology itself is in its early stage. The best-known quantum computing is from IBM, which uses 65 QuBits. Based on this, IBM has already estimated some areas where you can apply its quantum computers. Some of these industries are finance, cybersecurity, and more.
TechGenix: Article on IBM’s New Quantum Computing System
Check out IBM’s new quantum computing system here.
TechGenix: Article on the Current State of Quantum Computing in the Cloud
Read this article for more information about the status of quantum computing.
TechGenix: Article on Spin Qubits
Learn more about the spin QuBits breakthrough here.
TechGenix: Article on Major Innovations in Intel Quantum Computing
Discover what Intel is doing in the quantum computing space in this article.
TechGenix: Article on Google’s Quantum Computing Dreams
Learn about Google’s quantum computing here.