Oct 29th 2023.
I have decided to join IonQ.
Until recently, the main focus of IonQ was on small non-fault-tolerant machines. They have built small machines with up to 32 qubits with a noise rate of the order of 10^-4 (which is extremely impressive!). As they continue to build bigger machines with more qubits, building quantum hardware will hit a challenge as we do not expect to be able to manufacture qubits with a noise rate sufficiently low for large-scale quantum applications (the noise rate required for the factorization of 2,000-bit integers with Shor’s algorithm is 10^-12). To reach the low noise rate required for large-scale quantum applications, we need to build a fault-tolerant (FT) quantum computer using quantum error correction (QEC) to correct faults during the quantum computation.
Designing the architecture of a FT quantum computer is a major endeavor which requires the design of tailored quantum error correction codes, syndrome extraction circuits, decoders and fault-tolerant operations. I am excited to join IonQ in December to build a team and lead this work as a Principal Researcher.
- They have good qubits and the work of our QEC team will end up in a real machine within a few years. There is nothing more exciting!
- The sources of noise are well understood. The physics of trapped ions has been well studied and used to build qubits for more than 25 years. We have a deep understanding on the sources of noise which is crucial for QEC. We know what we are fighting against.
- They have beautiful math problems. The design of quantum error correction codes and fault-tolerant circuits for trapped ion quantum computers involves a lot of combinatorics and graph theory. I am excited to dive into these problems.
- They have incredibly talented scientists. I am excited to work with the team and to join my former colleagues John Gamble and Dave Wecker among others. Jungsang Kim, co-founder of IonQ, is extremely competent and heavily involved in the science and engineering of the company.
- They are exclusively focused on building a quantum computer. IonQ is 1,000 times smaller than Microsoft by number of employees and market cap. Working in a smaller company will give me the opportunity to have a direct impact on the company and the industry.
In addition to the above,
- I will keep publishing high-quality scientific papers. A number of non-trivial problems must be solved to build a large-scale FT quantum computer which will drive exciting research work.
- I will keep collaborating with academia. Building a quantum computer is an immense task that cannot be solved by a single company. We will need more collaboration with academia, in particular to resolve some difficult long-term problems.
I hope you can see why I am excited about this new adventure. I will be starting in December 2023. IonQ is making QEC a priority and we will be hiring researchers and interns. Please reach out to me if this sounds interesting to you!
- We already have an opening for a permanent researcher position in QEC. Apply here.
- We will also hire interns for the summer 2024. The position will be posted soon but you can already reach out to me by email if you are interested.