March 18, 2022
Firm focuses on fault-tolerant quantum architecture
Alice & Bob has raised $28 million to build its first fault-tolerant ‘cat qubit’ quantum computer.
The series A round was led by Elaia, BpiFrance Digital Venture Fund and Supernova with participation from Breega.
One of the factors hampering the development of quantum computers at scale is that they produce too many errors to be beneficial.
One type, called a bit-flip error, occurs when a qubit (the unit of quantum computing analogous to a bit in traditional computing) unintentionally switches from one to zero or vice versa.
That can be corrected by what is known as a bit-flip code, a three-qubit circuit that uses two ancillary qubits to correct the main qubit.
Alice & Bob is using a superconducting cat qubit approach to make theirs more fault tolerant. The company named it after Schrödinger’s cat, a thought experiment where a hypothetical cat in a box may be considered to be simultaneously alive or dead, illustrating the paradox of quantum superposition.
While other manufacturers, including IBM and Google, also use superconducting quantum technology, Alice & Bob’s uses the concept of something being in two states at once to automatically correct bit-flip errors. As a result, fewer qubits are needed to overcome those errors, freeing up processing power.
The company says its approach reduces the prevalence of bit-flip errors by a factor of tens of thousands, increasing the time between occurrences from a few milliseconds to two minutes.
The French startup also plans to use the funding to hire 30 additional employees over the next two years, including physicists, developers and engineers to support the commercialization of its technology.
“This substantial investment in Alice & Bob reflects the vibrant nature of the French quantum computing startup scene,” said Sam Lucero, Omdia chief quantum computing analyst.
“While the U.K. leads Europe in the number of quantum computing hardware vendors, France, Germany and the Netherlands also have robust quantum computing hardware ecosystems. Strong partnerships with academia help to drive this innovation.”
Alice & Bob is named after the hypothetical characters used as placeholders for discussions about cryptography and quantum physics.
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