Australian semiconductor company Archer Materials (ASX: AXE) is developing a quantum chip, that it describes as unlike any other.
The company says its technology has the potential to bridge the gap between quantum machines that require large infrastructure to operate and quantum chips in portable devices, like mobile phones.
Quantum computing is a new way of computing that is distinct from current technologies that rely on silicon-based transistors and memory chips including CPUs, GPUs and Flash/DRAM.
Globally, the CSIRO forecasts that quantum computing and related technologies will create a $86 billion-a-year industry and generate an additional 10,000 new jobs in Australia by 2040.
The path to the widespread adoption and applications of quantum computing technology relies heavily on the hardware development of quantum processor chips.
Archer recently achieved a major technical feat in the development of what it dubs its ‘12CQ’ (one-two-see-que) chip technology, which it says could pave the way for quantum powered mobile devices.
The company recently revealed it had detected quantum information on-chip, at room temperature, while using mobile phone compatible technology.
Archer did this using ‘a single-chip integrated electron spin resonance detector based on high electron mobility transistor (HEMT) technology’. HEMT is widely used in integrated circuits such as those in mobile phones.
The company believes this is a significant step, as many quantum computing machines currently use quantum chips that operate at low temperatures or are difficult to integrate in modern electronics, which limits ownership and use of practical quantum devices.
“Archer’s 12CQ chip development is unique as we have the potential to enable quantum powered mobile devices; our technology advance provides direct proof to support this exciting possibility,” Archer chief executive officer Dr Mohammad Choucair said.
“HEMT technology is well-established and widely used in the semiconductor industry, so its use in the development of qubit control devices is consistent with the company’s strategy to make the 12CQ chip compatible with modern electronics,” he added.
Archer is the only ASX-listed company and one of a few players in the world developing qubit processor chip technology in the semiconductor industry. A qubit, or quantum bit, is the basic unit of quantum information.
The company has patents protecting the technology in the US, China, South Korea, Japan, and Europe.
Currently, Archer is working on its quantum chip development at various world-class semiconductor facilities in Australia and Switzerland. Archer was the first Australian company building a qubit processor to join the invite-only, global IBM Quantum Network.
Archer confirms it is well-funded to progress its flagship 12CQ technology development with $29 million in cash and no corporate debt.
In addition to its flagship quantum chip technology, Archer is in the early stages of developing biochip technology to enable the complex detection of some of the world’s most deadly communicable diseases.
Last month the company announced it had successfully integrated a single-atom-thick sheet of graphene with silicon electronics.
“Prior to this latest work, Archer had achieved the integration of graphene in silicon electronics. Archer has now successfully performed complex post-integration lithography and atom-thick materials’ device processing that preserve graphene’s advanced electronic properties,” Dr Choucair said.
“The electronic transport measurements performed by the Archer team are the fundamental link with respect to using graphene in transistor technology intended for future biosensing operations in Archer’s biochip devices,” he added.
Archer set to grow in 2022
A key focus area for Archer’s scale-up includes the company’s domestic and international capabilities in advanced semiconductor design, fabrication, and prototyping.
This includes both access to infrastructure and facilities, and also the recruitment of industry talent.
Archer recently said it had received over 650 applications for a raft of highly specialised STEM roles to help develop its technologies.
Some of the talent at Archer includes internationally awarded and pioneering technologists who were the first to make graphene and those who built the single atom transistor – effectively reaching the end of Moore’s law and ushering in the very beginnings of the quantum era.