UCL Quantum Science and Technology Institute


UCL spin-out Phasecraft starts UK-Canada project

27 May 2021

Phasecraft kicks off Innovate UK-Canada project to benchmark and overcome noise and errors in near-term quantum hardware devices.

Photo of Phasecraft founders (Left to right): Toby Cubitt, John Morton and Ashley Montanaro

UK-based quantum software startup and UCL and University of Bristol spin-out Phasecraft today begins a new project facilitated by Innovate UK to reduce noise and errors on near-term quantum hardware.

Phasecraft was awarded the project grant from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK’s innovation agency, and a team with internationally recognised academic and industry experts from the University of Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) and Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada and University College London in the UK. The institutes are three of the world-leading quantum computing research centres with strength in quantum error correction and fault-tolerant quantum computing. Canada-based startup Quantum Benchmark will contribute expertise and access to their industry-leading software system for error diagnostics and error suppression to improve and validate hardware performance for quantum computing applications.

Toby Cubitt, co-founder of Phasecraft: “This project collaboration aligns with Phasecraft’s mission to speed up the arrival of quantum advantage for industrially relevant problems, realising the potential of quantum computing faster. Applications on today’s quantum hardware are limited largely by ‘noise’ - errors occurring during a quantum computation, which quantum information is acutely sensitive to. As quantum hardware becomes more powerful, the limiting factor for seeing useful applications in quantum computing will come down to developing new ways to build noise mitigation into the software and algorithms that make use of these increasingly powerful quantum computers.”

Raymond Laflamme, faculty member at IQC and in the University of Waterloo’s Department of Physics and Astronomy: “Quantum simulation and quantum computation have transformational potential for many fields of industry and research. However, quantum processors are not yet capable of practical tasks due to the debilitating effects of noise. Much research has been done to make general quantum processors fault-tolerant, but the overheads in resources are prohibitive for current devices. That is why we need to develop techniques to mitigate rather than fully correct errors in order to squeeze the best performance out of state-of-the-art quantum processors.”

Joseph Emerson, CEO and Chief Scientist at Quantum Benchmark: “This collaboration presents an important opportunity for these world-class researchers to achieve dramatically enhanced quantum computing capabilities through our state-of-the-art error diagnostic and error suppression software tools. For now and the foreseeable future, native quantum hardware, on its own, is incapable of delivering any quantum advantage (over conventional computing) due to performance-limiting hardware errors. We are pleased to see the growing recognition that our error diagnostic and suppression technology is mission-critical to achieving the breakthrough capabilities promised by quantum computing.”

The multi-phased project will:

  1. Benchmark noise and diagnose dominant errors on quantum hardware platforms
  2. Develop new error-resilient algorithms that can be implemented on NISQ (noisy, intermediate-scale, quantum) hardware where full fault-tolerance is beyond reach.
  3. Integrate error diagnostics, error suppression and error mitigation with algorithm design: algorithms designed around accurate hardware error models with error mitigation and error suppression customized to industrially-relevant applications and algorithms.
  4. Develop a feedback and refinement loop to refine error modelling, error mitigation, algorithm design and implementation on hardware.
  5. Demonstrate and validate desired performance for use cases on near-term quantum hardware.

Michael Vasmer, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics: “Quantum technology has matured to the point where researchers now have excellent control over the elementary building blocks of a quantum computer: quantum bits (qubits). Unfortunately, state-of-the-art quantum processors still suffer from errors caused by unwanted interaction of the fragile qubits with their environment. Developing robust implementations of quantum algorithms is therefore essential for demonstrating the usefulness of near-term quantum computers.”

Nikolas P. Breuckmann, Research Fellow at University College London: “We plan to characterise the noise present in state-of-the-art quantum processors and use this information to tailor error correction and error mitigation strategies to particular hardware platforms and particular commercially important applications. This is essential as different qubit technologies have various strengths and weaknesses, and different applications are sensitive to different types of error.”

Ashley Montanaro, co-founder of Phasecraft: “We are developing robust quantum algorithm implementations that can run successfully on today’s error-prone quantum processors. Building a feedback loop for testing and optimising on specific devices has the potential to speed the timeline towards quantum advantage for industrially relevant problems, such as the simulation of quantum systems for materials science and molecular modelling.”

Roger McKinley, Challenge Director for Quantum Technologies at UK Research and Innovation: “This is a great project of commercial as well scientific relevance in the hands of an outstanding team made up of UK and Canadian companies and universities.  It exemplifies the many guises of quantum collaboration we seek to encourage.”

Phasecraft has world-leading expertise in designing error-resilient algorithms for near-term quantum computing hardware, and has partnerships enabling access to all three of the leading superconducting circuit hardware platforms from Google, Rigetti and IBM. Phasecraft’s partnerships allow the project team to conduct small-scale experiments and large-scale demonstrations on start-of-the-art quantum hardware to advance meaningful quantum applications.

Quantum Benchmark is a leading software solution provider that enables error characterization, error suppression, error correction, and performance validation for quantum computing hardware. Quantum Benchmark is led by a team of the world's top research scientists and engineers in quantum computing with the mission of enabling quantum computers to solve real-world problems.

About Phasecraft

Phasecraft is taking quantum theory from research to reality, faster. Phasecraft was founded in 2019 by Toby Cubitt, Ashley Montanaro and John Morton, expert quantum scientists who have spent decades leading top research teams at UCL and the University of Bristol. Phasecraft collaborates with leading quantum hardware companies, including Google, IBM and Rigetti, academic and industry leaders, to develop high-efficiency software that evolves quantum computing from experimental demonstrations to useful applications.



Photo of Phasecraft's founding team (Credit: A.Abrucsi, UCL)