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‘Leap forward’ for cloud after Oxford deal with chip maker

Chris Ballance Oxford Ionics.jpg

The power of cloud services is set to take a leap forward following a deal between a UK quantum computing company and a German chip maker.

Oxford Ionics and Infineon Technologies say their deal will bring down the cost of high-performance quantum technology to make it available for new markets.

“I expect the first customers will offer cloud access,” Chris Ballance (pictured), founder of Oxford Ionics, told Capacity.

He said that early applications will be in financial markets, “for portfolio optimisation”, and “hard materials science problems, such as drug design”.

But “the real killer apps will be things you don’t expect”, said Ballance.

The two companies’ collaboration will be to build high-performance and fully integrated quantum processing units. Infineon produces high-volume semiconductors for a wide variety of commercial markets, including “chips for cars and cellphones”, said Ballance.

Oxford Ionics, founded out of Oxford University in 2019, said the goal is to move quantum computing “out of the research lab into real industrial solutions”.

It is working with a data centre company, that he would not name. “We have a few select partnerships with customers.”

The company has already raised close to US$10 million, he said, and “we will be raising our series A funding in six to eight weeks”. He did not say how much the company hopes to raise, or from where. There will be a further funding round in 24 months, he added. “We are not cash limited.”

The Oxford Ionics approach to quantum computing is to make millions of 5mm × 5mm qubit chips on a 30cm diameter semiconductor wafer. “Qubits make mistakes,” said Ballance, so the company will use a “majority voting” approach to error correction.

Stephan Schächer, director of new application, innovation and quantum computing at Infineon, said: “The role of Infineon is to take the ground-breaking work of Oxford Ionics to scale properly towards meaningful qubit counts and low error rates. Infineon’s ion traps can enable that in conjunction with our predictable, repeatable, and reliable manufacturing and assembly capabilities.”

Ballance co-founded the company with Tom Harty. Both are physics graduates and PhDs from Oxford University.

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