Quantum Computing Company of the Week: PsiQuantum, One of the most well funded Quantum Companies on the planet

Today’s company of the week puts the spotlight on a company valued at 3.5 billion US dollars, with investments from top Investment firms like Blackrock, and Venture Capitals like Microsoft’s M12. PsiQuantum is a quantum computing company working to build the world’s first One million Qubit, Fault Tolerant Quantum Computer with error correction that will be the first of its kind, and what it terms “actually useful.”

Founders of PsiQuantum, From Australia to Bristol

The founders of PsiQuantum are Jeremy O’Brien, Terry Rudolph, Pete Shadbolt, and Mark Thompson. Their collective and individual journeys in the quantum computing industry didn’t start on the official founding date of PsiQuantum, but long before then.

Jeremy O’Brien serves as the CEO of PsiQuantum. His interest in Quantum Computing started in 1995 after reading about the great potential of quantum computing to revolutionize the world. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of New South Wales in Quantum Technologies.

Terry Rudolph, who serves as chief architect, traded a career in academia to work on PsiQuantum’s ground-breaking Quantum computer in 2016. He was a professor of quantum physics at Imperial College London before co-founding the company with other cofounders. His interest in quantum computing developed from a class he took during his bachelors’ program.

Pete Shadbolt serves as the company’s Chief Scientific Officer. After his Ph.D. in experimental photonic quantum computing at the University of Bristol was completed in 2014, Pete was a postdoctoral student at Imperial College researching the theory of photonic QC. While at Bristol, he demonstrated the first-ever Variational Quantum Eigensolver and the first-ever public API to a quantum processor. He has won several awards commending this feat.

Mark Thompson serves as Chief Technologist at PsiQuantum. He has over twenty years of experience in photonic and quantum technologies. He holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Cambridge and he founded and served as director of and was Director of the Bristol Quantum Engineering Centre for Doctoral Training (QECDT), the Bristol Quantum Technology Enterprise Center (QuTEC), and QETlabs.

Who are PsiQuantum?

Psiquantum was officially founded in 2015, but much work had been going on behind the scenes since 2003 that would all lead up to the founding of PsiQuantum. The company is based in Palo Alto, California, with a team of over a hundred and fifty people, and it has been described as the best-funded quantum company in the world.

The aim of Psiquantum is to go beyond what other companies are attempting to do with quantum computing and build a quantum computer that is actually useful and can solve a host of varying problems across industries. To do this involves the company’s use of photons and the creation of an approximately one-million-qubit quantum computer with fault tolerance and error correction.

“We have a differentiated approach from the rest of the quantum computing world. When we founded the company we said useful quantum computing will require error correction, therefore it needs a million qubits, therefore it needs a tier one semiconductor fab partner.”

– Jeremy O’Brien, CEO and Co-founder, PsiQuantum.

Quantum Products and Services

What Psi-Quantum is developing is the world’s first-ever commercial-grade general-purpose quantum computer on a large scale and the company is employing photonic quantum technology to do this i.e. using photons or particles of light as qubits.

O’Brien has called their approach unique, divulging that they will be able to create such a powerful quantum computer because they have “figured out how to make a silicon transistor in an age of vacuum tubes and mechanical relays. It’s silicon that is the way forward…” this has been O’Brien’s conviction for over 25 years.

The goal is to make the computer actually useful, beyond what most quantum computers can currently do. And the answer to this was error correction, which is why the company needed to build a quantum computer with a million qubits. One that would be able to perform reliable, error-free calculations.

Partners

In 2021, PsiQuantum made headlines for its series D funding round after landing a 450 million dollar investment led by funds and accounts managed by BlackRock Inc. The company has also received funding from the likes of M12, a venture capital owned by Microsoft.

In May 2021, PsiQuantum announced a deal with GlobalFoundries to partner on the building and production of their quantum chips.

“We spent the first years and several hundred million dollars getting into Global Foundries (GF) [as a foundry partner], and so we are now producing quantum chips in the production line at GF next mobile phone and laptop chips”

– Jeremy O’Brien, CEO and Co-founder, PsiQuantum.

On the 7th of April 2022, the partnership between GlobalFoundries and PsiQuantum received 25 million US dollars in funding from the United States Federal Government spearheaded by United States senator, Charles E. Schumer. Research and Development carried out in this new phase of the partnership will be done at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, New York, and is expected to advance the United State’s Quantum Computing capabilities over China, create new jobs, and improve national security.

“Now more than ever federal funding is needed to ensure that the U.S. stays ahead of our international competitors – including China – in the race to develop the next generation of high tech and this will supercharge our researchers to continue to make groundbreaking discoveries in quantum computing.” 

– Charles E. Schumer, U.S. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER

Early Quantum Customers

The computer that the company aims to build would have applications across several industries including climate, energy, healthcare, industry, high tech, and government. This means that the customer base for what PsiQuantum is building is not defined by one particular industry or company.

“We are working with customers now across the aerospace, automotive, financial, chemical, semiconductor industry and the work we are doing with them is getting them ready to fully use the systems.”

– Jeremy O’Brien, CEO and Co-founder, PsiQuantum.

Future of PsiQuantum

Psiquantum doesn’t look to be slowing down in its path. As the one-million qubit computer is still in its design and production stages, much of the funding, research, and production of psi-quantum is focused on that mainly. And more importantly, working with customers across industries to ready them for the introduction of such a powerful computer.