Photonic quantum computing company Xanadu (Toronto, ON, Canada) and imec have entered a partnership in which they will develop next-generation photonic qubits based on ultralow-loss silicon nitride (SiN) waveguides.
Photonic qubits are based on squeezed states, a special type of light generated by chip-integrated silicon photonic devices. Such an approach uses particles of light to carry information through photonic chips, rather than electrons or ions used by other approaches. Xanadu’s photonic approach offers scalability to one million qubits via optical networking, room-temperature computation, and the ability to leverage fabrication R&D centers such as imec.
A critical challenge in building a photonic quantum computer is finding the right fabrication partner that can simultaneously deliver cutting-edge process development and volume production of high-performing photonic chips, says Zachary Vernon, head of Xanadu’s Hardware team. “Imec is one of the few semiconductor R&D centers that does advanced technology R&D on advanced 200 mm and 300 mm lines, as well as volume manufacturing on their 200 mm line, capable of delivering up to a thousand wafers per year per customer on a few platforms including ultralow-loss photonic platforms,” he explains.
Competing platforms for photonic quantum computing traditionally rely on single-photon sources made from silicon waveguides, which suffer from non-deterministic operation. Using SiN enables the generation of squeezed states, which replace single photons as the basic resource for synthesizing qubits. Squeezed states are deterministically generated, and can be used to distill error-resistant qubits called GKP states. When multiplexed and implemented in Xanadu’s architecture, these offer a more promising path to fault-tolerant quantum computing.
Xanadu offers cloud access to both photonic quantum hardware and software solutions over its Xanadu Cloud platform. It recently announced a $100 million round led by Bessemer Venture Partners, giving a total of $145 million raised thus far.