Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Quantum computers look like they're going to be a big part of our computing future. But so far, it's been famously difficult to get them to do anything super useful. Lots of new technologies are aiming to get commercially viable quantum computing here just a little bit faster, including one innovation that shrinks quantum tech down onto a chip: a cryochip. But just so we're all on the same page to start off, classical computing works like this: your computer uses bits, which are basically blips of electricity that are represented as 0's and 1's. There are only two options in a bit, either 0 or 1, 'yes' or 'no.' That means all of our computing is limited to this binary framework to ask questions and get answers. But quantum computers exploit quantum mechanics for information processing. This is this the set of laws that we think dictates the behavior of the tiniest particles in our universe— including, some of these particles' ability to exist in multiple states at once. They're both on and off at the same time, a phenomenon called superposition. In a quantum computer, the computing units that use this and other quantum phenomena to make calculations are called quantum bits, or qubits. Instead of the 0 or 1 of a classical bit, a qubit exists in this space where it can be both at the same time or even somewhere in between. Okay, that's the basics. Because of this ability of qubits, quantum computers have the potential to run really complex calculations exponentially faster than classical computers can. You can picture it kinda like if a classical computer solves a maze by trying each path out of the maze one at a time, a quantum computer solves a maze by trying all the paths at once. But there's a catch. While qubits do have the potential to be super powerful, they're also really, really hard to both make and control. They're so sensitive that they are influenced by literally everything around them. So, to make sure the qubits are superconductive like they're supposed to be, and to keep them insulated from the 'noise' of all the other molecules out in the world and to reduce errors, current quantum computers have to make and keep their qubits in freezers that are as close to absolute zero as physically possible— and that's colder than outer space! But the rest of the quantum computer—like the electronics that tell the qubits how to behave and that then read the output of those qubits on the other end— they can't work at temperatures that low. That issue, plus the need to so closely control those qubits' behavior, means that what we have now is this tangled web of wires that connects each individual qubit to the rest of the computer. Which is okay for the quantum computers of today, which have less than 100 qubits. But eventually, we'll need to scale up to the million-qubit systems to tackle the problems we want answers to, so this set up just isn't sustainable. One solution? A cryogenic computer chip. Intel just debuted a chip they're calling Horse Ridge, which may seems like a weird thing to call a computer chip, but it's actually named after one of the coldest places in Oregon, where Intel has a big presence. And it's appropriately named, because this technology takes those electronics needed to control the qubits, and puts them on a chip that's capable of functioning at about 4 Kelvin, so they can live inside the cryogenic chamber with the qubits! But how? It's a CMOS chip, which stands for complementary metal oxide semiconductor. That's the same kind of chip found in any microprocessor, like you'd have in your phone or your computer. And that allows the chip to contain all of those circuits required for the billions of electrical circuits we'd need for a large-scale quantum computer. It uses four different radiofrequency channels, too—which gives it the potential to control up to 128 qubits! Which is a lot for us right now. That takes a system like this, and shrinks it down to something like this. Which is a pretty huge milestone, because getting electronics to function at temperatures that low is really hard. This is Intel's version, but Google and Microsoft are also both developing cryogenic chips. And this aspect of Horse Ridge is actually just the first step in Intel's plan to streamline quantum tech. They're also exploring something called silicon spin qubits, which they hope could be robust enough to operate at temperatures as high as one Kelvin, which would be a giant step up in temperature for qubits. Intel actually calls these 'hot' qubits, which I think is really cute. This paves the way for maybe eventually having the qubits and their electronic controls on one chip together, which would be huge. It's going to take all kinds of innovation in quantum physics and materials science to get us to a future where we can use quantum computers to radically advance science, medicine, tech, and...well, just about everything. A cryogenic chip is just one exciting development in a huge sea of innovations that we'll likely be hearing about as researchers from around the world work to make quantum computing more of a working reality. If you want more in-depth info on what quantum computers are and how they work, you should check out our other quantum computing videos on this channel, like this one on quantum supremacy, or some of mine that I've made for channels like Lawrence Livermore National Lab. Let us know what other quantum stuff you want us to cover down in the comments below, and subscribe Seeker for all of your breaking computing news. Thanks so much for watching, and I'll see you next time.