With its neutral-atom approach, Welinq raises €5 million to scale up quantum computing

While ion traps might be grabbing the headlines of late, Parisian startups including Welinq are taking on the neutral atom approach that could make all the difference.
With its neutral-atom approach, Welinq raises €5 million to scale up quantum computing

Parisian startup Welinq has raised €5 million in a pre-seed financing round aimed at helping the company deploy its variety of connecting quantum computers based on the neutral-atom approach. 

The €5 million pre-seed round was led by Quantonation with Runa Capital participating alongside French National Quantum Initiative, the French Banque Publique d’Investissement (BPI), and the European Commission.

When it comes to quantum computing architectures, there are a variety of approaches: superconducting qubits, ion traps, photonics, silicon, and the list goes on. A physical substrate that enables the creation of a qubit, the fundamental building block of a quantum computer that we don’t hear about every day is that of neutral atoms. The flavour du jour is that of ion traps (see Oxford Ionics, for example).

Whereas the ion trap approach utilises the imbalance between protons and electrons to function, neutral atoms, as the name implies, use atoms with equal amounts of positive and negative charges. Like ion-trap systems, individual qubits can be encoded into the energy levels of the atoms. In doing so, the qubits retain the three-dimensional geometry of their host atoms. Nearby qubits can then be programmed to interact with one another via two-qubit gates. 

If your head is spinning at this point, fear not: ultimately what this means is that with the neutral atom approach, some pretty heavy-duty quantum computing possibilities are made, well, possible.

One such possibility, and an area that Welinq is focusing on, is that of interconnecting quantum computers, thus scaling up quantum computing beyond the thousands of qubits range, the goal that would make Richard Feynman’s dream a reality. Beyond simply scaling the computational power, the neutral atom approach is also a  core element of long-distance quantum information networks. Simply put: a quantum internet.

“Quantum memories have been identified today as the key missing hardware for the scale-up of quantum technologies. Not only must these devices be deployed on the market at the earliest, but they also need to show extremely high performance and robustness if we want them to truly impact industry and society,” explained Tom Darras, CEO and co-founder of Welinq.

While it’s not quite certain if Paris is planting a flag in the ground as the neutral atom approach capital, with Welinq and neighbours Pasqal now going full speed ahead with their methods, the city of light could well be ushering in a brave new world sans dystopia.

Lead image: Sébastien Borda

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