Canadian Manufacturing

Xanadu and imec partner to develop computer chips

The partnership aims to help computer technology supplier Xanadu build quantum computers that are useful and widely available.

August 17, 2021  by CM Staff

A SiN wafer with photonic integrated circuits manufactured on imec’s advanced 200mm line. (CNW Group/Xanadu)

Canadian computer technology developer Xanadu has partnered with imec, a Belgian digital technology researcher, to develop the next generation of photonic qubits based on ultra-low loss silicon nitride (SiN) waveguides.

Xanadu is developing a unique type of quantum computer, one based on photonics. Specifically, these photonic qubits are based on squeezed states – a special type of light generated by chip-integrated silicon photonic devices. According to Xanadu officials, this approach uses particles of light to carry information through photonic chips, rather than electrons or ions used by other approaches. “[Our] photonic approach offers the benefits of scalability to one million qubits via optical networking, room temperature computation, and the natural ability to leverage fabrication R&D centres such as imec,” they said.

“One of the most critical challenges 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,” said Zachary Vernon, who heads up Xanadu’s hardware team. “Imec is one of the few semiconductor R&D centres that does advanced technology R&D on advanced 200mm and 300mm lines, as well as volume manufacturing on their 200mm line, capable of delivering up to a thousand wafers per year per customer on a few platforms including ultralow-loss photonic platforms. The seamless transfer offered by imec of new processes to production is especially critical for rapid scaling of our technology.”

Competing platforms for photonic quantum computing traditionally rely on single photon sources made from silicon waveguides, which suffer from non-deterministic operation. Using silicon nitride 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.

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Founded in 2016, 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.


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