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Quantum computer technology growing in Colorado

Posted at 5:26 AM, Oct 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-12 20:08:48-04

BOULDER, Colo. — A growing technology is expanding here Colorado. It’s called quantum computing, and there’s a new facility in Boulder working to make a difference in the state.

Benjamin Bloom is the founder and chief technology officer of Atom Computing, a company that’s developing large-scale quantum computers. The facility officially opened in Boulder the last week of September. Bloom’s company is based out of Berkeley, California, but Bloom, a CU Boulder grad, wanted to bring another location to Colorado.

“I think there’s just so many companies flocking to the area because it’s such a vibrant community actually doing research, and actually building the technologies we’re trying to implement in a commercial setting,” Bloom said.

Quantum computing expanding in Colorado

So, what exactly is quantum computing?

“We trap, cool and then manipulate individual atoms and we do this so we can actually create quantum computers, which can solve some of the world’s most technologically difficult problems in a way that classical computers cannot,” Bloom said.

This new technology could potentially do anything from creating new materials to help with drug discovery to even help solve logistics and supply chain problems.

Bloom said quantum computers are not being used in the real world right now. They’re in the prototype phase which is where quantum engineers like Will Cairncross come in. Cairncross spends tedious amounts of time working in what’s called the Optics Lab. This is where subcomponents for quantum computers are built before they’re transported over to the lab itself — where the finished computers will eventually be housed.

“The system I’m working on right now is basically like an atom rearranging system, so it’s going to pick up the atoms inside this grid, which sort of forms our quantum computer processor. It’s going to be picked up and moved around,” Cairncross said.

What is fascinating, Bloom said, is quantum computers are actually the size of two shoeboxes. What ends up taking up a lot of space are the parts built around it.

When could we see quantum computers being used in our everyday life?

“I think that within the next two to four years you’re going to see a giant growth in quantum computers,” Bloom said.

Bloom said he plans to invest $100 million into the facility over the next few years from building new systems and hiring more people to continue growing the industry in Colorado.

He said Atom Computing is now the third quantum computing company in the state.