UNSW leads quantum computer project

Another Sydney university has joined the international race to develop the world’s first quantum computer.


The University of NSW is the latest contender in what’s been called the space race of the 21st century after it launched Silicon Quantum Computing on Wednesday.

UNSW has partnered with Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank in the $83 million venture which will use technology developed at the university over the past two decades to build quantum computing hardware.

The University of Sydney in July revealed it had partnered with Microsoft to try and develop the world’s first quantum computer.

Quantum computers promise to deliver a massive increase in processing power over conventional computers by using a single electron or nucleus of an atom as the basic processing unit – a quantum bit, or qubit.

By performing multiple calculations simultaneously, quantum computers could be used to complete fast database searches, optimise traffic data and in artificial intelligence.

UNSW has received $8.7 million and $25 million boosts from the state and federal governments respectively to help create a prototype by 2022.

“It’s an exciting time to invest in this new industry that will shape the 21st century,” UNSW physics professor Michelle Simmons said in a statement on Wednesday.

Within the next five years, Silicon Quantum Computing will put together all the components of a quantum computer into a chip which will fast-track its ability to create a full-scale quantum computer, Telstra’s chief scientist Hugh Bradlow told AAP.

“UNSW is a world leader in this technology,” he said.

Skills Minister John Barilaro says this launch ensures NSW is a global leader in the space race.

“This new company, led by UNSW, will help to ensure we remain global leaders in the race to develop a silicon based quantum computer,” Skills Minister John Barilaro said in a statement on Wednesday.

The hardware will be built at the UNSW Sydney Kensington campus and at the University of Melbourne by a team of postdoctoral researchers, PhD students and lab technicians.