Xanadu and Imec collaborate in the development of photonic chips for low error Quantum Computing

Xanadu and Imec have announced a partnership that will involve the development of next-generation photonic qubits using ultra-low loss silicon nitride circuits. Founded in 2016, the Canadian company Xanadu brings its expertise in silicon photonic hardware for creating fault-tolerant quantum computers. Their collaborators Imec, provide research and innovation in nanoelectronics and digital technology. The Imec team has over 5,000 employees and researchers for R&D semiconductor and system scaling, silicon photonics and AI among other areas for private and public sector applications. 

Xanadu is currently developing a unique photonic quantum computer. This utilises photonic qubits to generate squeezed states as opposed to single photons. This linearises the qubits to reduce uncertainty. Unlike traditional qubit systems, photonic systems can be maintained at normal temperatures and outside of a vacuum. Furthermore, photons travel at the speed of light and are the optimal carrier of quantum information given the large bandwidth. The silicon nitride (SiN) circuits used for this system offer high-yield fabrication, ultra-low loss and are scalable up to one million qubits. 

“We are pleased to see that Imec’s wafer-scale low loss SiN photonics platform, initially developed for communication, is finding its way towards other advanced applications, like quantum computing. We look forward to working with Xanadu to drive further development of this platform for their particular needs,” says Amin Abbasi, business development management from Imec. Xanadu’s hardware team lead Zachary Vernon states, “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. 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 the rapid scaling of our technology.”

Xanadu founder and CEO, Christian Weedbrook declares, “Xanadu’s ultimate mission is to build quantum computers that are useful and available to people everywhere. To do this we have the ambitious goal of reaching one million qubits using photonics. Working with Imec will help us build the right foundation based on fault tolerance and error-correctable qubits. One of the best parts of working with Imec is their agility and ability to scale production on new platforms by transferring them to top production foundries around the world.”

The partnership between Xanadu and Imec promises to advance quantum computing for more mainstream use given the production advantages of photonic systems and the announcement of a $145 million investment into the venture. The Xanadu Cloud platform also provides access to photonic quantum hardware and software.