A quantum computer chip constructed by D-Wave Systems

Google launches quantum computing project

US tech giant Google has announced a new research project to develop quantum computing processors for artificial intelligence.

The company said prominent physicist John Martinis, an expert in superconducting electronics, had been hired to lead the team, which also involves scientists from Nasa’s Ames Research Center and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA).

Martinis has previously worked at University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), where he established a successful research group, which is now becoming part of Google.

"With an integrated hardware group, the Quantum AI team will now be able to implement and test new designs for quantum optimisation and inference processors based on recent theoretical insights as well as our learnings from the D-Wave quantum annealing architecture," Google's director of engineering, Hartmut Neven, said on the company’s research blog.

Google has shown growing interest in artificial intelligence in supercomputing in the past years. Apart from developing smart self-driving cars, the company has acquired private artificial intelligence company DeepMind Technologies earlier this year.

Google was also among the first companies to buy a D-Wave quantum computer, described as the world’s first commercially available quantum computer. In addition to experimenting with D-Wave, Google has cooperated with Nasa, running experiments on the agency’s Vesuvius quantum computer.

We will continue to collaborate with D-Wave scientists and to experiment with the “Vesuvius” machine at Nasa Ames which will be upgraded to a 1000 qubit “Washington” processor,” Neven said in the blog.

However, the tech giant’s ultimate goal now seems to be developing its own quantum computing hardware.

John Martinis was said to keep working with UCSB, using the university’s fabrication and measurement facilities. He will also continue tutoring undergraduate students.

The researcher said he was particularly excited about Google’s expertise in “mapping machine learning applications to a quantum computer.”


Watch John Martinis' talk about quantum computer design: 

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