New world. French startup Pasqal presents its quantum computer


Christophe Jurczak, President of Pasqal, in front of a prototype of a quantum computer designed with the Institut d  'Optique de Saclay.
Christophe Jurczak, president of Pasqal, in front of a quantum computer prototype designed with the Saclay optics institute. (JEROME COLOMBAIN / RADIOFRANCE)

Emmanuel Macron presented on January 21, 2021 a national quantum plan, which aims to make France a leading player in this sector presented as revolutionary. Quantum computers already exist. Example, in Saclay, in the Paris region, within the young Pasqal company.

franceinfo: What is a quantum computer?

Christophe Jurczak, President of Pasqal : A quantum computer takes advantage of the quantum properties of matter, that is, at the microscopic level, which allows calculations to be performed much faster than with a standard classical machine. At Pasqal, we do not “make” our qubits, but use “natural” atoms which we process with laser light.

How powerful is your quantum computer?

We are in the 100 to 200 qubit range. Google or IBM are around 50 to 60 qubits. But, beyond power, what is important is what is called loyalty. Today it’s difficult to fully control the qubits, so it’s not yet fully programmable. This is where we are concentrating most of our work today.

What is the “perfect” quantum computer that Emmanuel Macron spoke about when presenting the quantum plane?

The perfect quantum computer is a computer that no longer makes mistakes. It’s like the holy grail of quantum computing. Indeed, today all machines still make mistakes. As far as we are concerned, they are in the range of 0.1 to 1 or 2%. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s still too much.

To date, we are implementing algorithms that are tolerant of these errors and we are not yet doing active error correction. But it is a research subject that we are working on. We expect to have a perfect computer at Pasqal in 5, 6 or 7 years.

AT what is your quantum computer for?

We worked with EDF on problems of combinatorial complexes to optimize the recharging of fleets of electric vehicles. For example, when you have hundreds of vehicles, what is the best strategy to best recharge them, in what order, with what priorities, etc. ?

Does a quantum computer consume a lot of electricity?

No. A quantum computer consumes very little energy. This is one of the big advantages over traditional computing. Our computer consumes just 7-8 kW, or the equivalent of a few hair dryers.

(This interview is a partial transcript of the audio interview to listen to above)


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