Commonwealth Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) funding will support a project to produce isotopically pure silicon – a key enabling material for silicon-based quantum computers.
Silicon Quantum Computing Pty Limited (SQC) is pleased to announce receipt of a $3 million CRC-P funding grant awarded to a collaboration led by Silex Systems Limited (Silex) with UNSW Sydney and SQC, which will support a four year project (the Project) announced in December 2019 to develop a process for the commercial production of high-purity ‘Zero-Spin Silicon’ using a variant of SILEX laser enrichment technology.
Zero-Spin Silicon (ZS-Si) is a unique form of isotopically purified silicon required for the fabrication of the next-generation of processor chips that will sit at the heart of silicon quantum computers.
Silex’s laser isotope separation technology has the potential to efficiently produce ZS-Si to provide a secure supply of this essential material for SQC in support of its efforts to commercialise silicon-quantum computing.
The Project aims to develop technology to cost-effectively produce enriched silicon in the form of ZS-Si, and to establish the manufacturing technology and capability to scale-up production as silicon-based quantum computing gains traction globally over the next decade.
“Isotopically pure silicon is an essential ingredient for quantum computer processors and it is extraordinarily fortuitous that Australia, through Silex, has the expertise to manufacture this here. It greatly improves the quality of our devices providing a critical component of the supply chain to manufacture our products here in Australia”, says Professor Michelle Simmons, Director of the Centre for Excellence in Quantum Computing and Communication Technology (CQC2T) and a founder and Director of SQC.
“Together with our collaboration partners, we are very pleased to be awarded the full $3 million funding grant from the CRC-P,” Dr Michael Goldsworthy, Silex CEO said today. “This clearly demonstrates the Federal Government’s strong support for silicon-based quantum computing technology, and allows Silex and our project partners to pursue the project with optimum resources. As stated in our December 2019 [ASX] announcement, we are excited to be part of the global silicon-based quantum computing opportunity and look forward to working with UNSW and SQC. We greatly appreciate the support of the CRC-P”, he added.
Quantum computers are expected to be thousands of times more powerful than the best of today’s conventional computers, opening new frontiers and opportunities in many industries, including medicine, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and global financial systems.
Further background to quantum computing technology, Silex, SQC and UNSW Sydney is provided in the attached appendix.
Further information on this announcement call Jon King at Silicon Quantum Computing +61 488 666 763
Further information on SQC’s activities can be found on the Silicon Quantum Computing website: www.sqc.com.au or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further Information Regarding the ‘Zero-Spin Silicon’ Project
Background to Silicon-based Quantum Computing and ZS-Si
Quantum computing (QC) represents a new era in computing technology and will open new frontiers and opportunities in many industries including, but not limited to, genomic medicine and advanced pharmacology, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, global financial systems, and global logistics. It is an industry that is forecast to be worth many billions of dollars by 2030 and to experience very significant growth from the 2030’s onwards.
Australian researchers working at the CQC2T and for SQC, both based at UNSW Sydney, are at the forefront of global efforts to develop silicon-based quantum computers, which will be thousands of times more powerful than today’s computers which utilise conventional semiconductor transistor technology. Instead of information being processed in nanometer-scale transistors with binary ‘bits’ which can have only two states (0 or 1), silicon-based quantum computer processors utilise atomic-scale quantum spin effects with ‘qubits’ which can be in multiple superimposed states at the same time, thereby dramatically increasing the processing power in a miniscule fraction of the volume.
A major challenge in the pursuit of CQC2T/SQC’s ‘silicon spin qubit’ approach (favoured over other methods because of its enormous potential in terms of scalability and reliability), is the availability of the key enabling material for the silicon QC processor chip – ‘Zero-Spin Silicon’ (ZS-Si). Natural silicon (Si) consists of 3 isotopes: 92.2% Si-28, 3.1% Si-30 (each with zero electron spin) and 4.7% Si-29 (with a spin state of ½). The presence of Si-29 in concentrations above 100ppm (0.01%) prevents effective QC performance, so ZS-Si must be produced by isotopic elimination of Si-29.
The inherent efficiency of the SILEX laser isotope separation technology potentially means that concentrations of Si-29 well below 100ppm could be achieved. The lower the concentration of Si-29, the better a silicon quantum processor will perform in terms of computational power, accuracy and reliability.
Current methods for production of enriched silicon are very limited and costly (even for lower purity material) with only a few kilograms produced annually mostly using gas centrifuge technology. Security of supply risks may impede scientific and commercial progress and threaten Australia’s leading position in the development of silicon-based quantum computers. This project aims to provide a solution to these supply issues by establishing a ZS-Si production capability to support the growth and leadership of the Australian QC ecosystem, and to become a global supplier of ZS-Si. QC is becoming a key issue for national security and global geopolitics, and is a high priority focus area of the Australian Federal Government.
About Silicon Quantum Computing Pty Ltd:
Silicon Quantum Computing Pty Limited is an Australian private company at the forefront of global efforts to build a commercial-scale silicon-based quantum computer and bring QC to market.
SQC was formed in May 2017 by the Commonwealth of Australia, the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Telstra Corporation Limited, the Commonwealth Bank and the State of New South Wales, and funded with A$87.8 million, to acquire a portfolio of world leading, silicon QC intellectual property (IP) developed at the Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communications Technology (CQC2T).
Since May 2017, leveraging the CQC2T IP and its own developed QC IP, SQC has been pursuing a program to build a quantum processor in silicon by assembling a world class team of quantum scientists, engineers and technicians, acquiring specialist equipment and moving into laboratory space at UNSW. In addition to its core processor technology development program, SQC is executing a strategy to ensure it can manufacture the computer.
UNSW is one of the leading research-intensive universities in Australia with more than 6,000 staff and world class research infrastructure. It hosts the ARC Centre of Excellence that is world-leading in silicon-based quantum computing. UNSW’s Faculty of Science consists of nine schools with more than 400 staff and 700 researchers delivering world class research and innovation. UNSW scientists from the School of Physics and the School of Chemistry will assist SQC to provide the subject knowledge around quantum-material demands, testing of qubit coherence properties in the enriched silicon material and contribute to the general knowledge of quantum applications of isotopically enriched silicon.
About Silex Systems:
Silex Systems Limited (Silex) is a high-tech company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. Silex’s core expertise is in the development of laser isotope separation (LIS) technology and is the inventor of the unique SILEX laser enrichment process which is being developed as a next-generation technology for the global uranium enrichment industry. A variant of Silex’s LIS technology also has the potential to economically produce Zero-Spin Silicon (ZS-Si) with very high isotopic purity. This is the key enabling material for silicon-based quantum processors and is required to support the development and anticipated global growth of silicon-based QC technology.