The University of Bristol in the United Kingdom has unveiled a first-of-its-kind project that allows free, global access to a miniature quantum processor chip via the internet.
Jeremy O'Brien, a professor at the university, announced that his team is launching the "Qcloud" to make the resources for quantum computing available to the next generation of engineers, mathematicians, scientists and entrepreneurs - those in the classroom, as well as to those already working in research.
Professor Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel Laureate and President of the Royal Society said, "it is very exciting to see this kind of technology being made accessible, not only to research institutions, but to the next generation of scientists."
From September 20, the quantum processor housed at the university's Centre for Quantum Photonics will become the world's first open-access system, allowing researchers from anywhere in the world to access it remotely via the internet.
Using the website bristol.ac.uk/quantum-computing schools, academic research institutions and members of the public can log on and access a quantum simulator, which will be accompanied by user guides and manuals to help users get to grips with the basics of quantum computing.
Once users are satisfied with the results of their simulation, they can submit their experiment to be run on a real quantum photonic processor.
Project leader, Professor Jeremy O'Brien said: "This technology has helped accelerate our research and is allowing us to do things we never thought possible. It's incredibly exciting to think what might be achieved by making this more widely accessible, not only to the brightest minds already working in research, but to the next generation."
Quantum mechanics - the physics of the ultra-tiny - has been heralded as the future of computing, allowing the creation of computer systems which can solve problems at unparalleled speed.
Classic computing relies on each fundamental unit of information (known as a 'bit') to be coded as an unambiguous 1 or 0. In every household and office computer, the time it takes for the wavering electrical signals responsible for transmitting messages to settle down to being either a 1 or a 0 is largely what dictates the speed of the computer chip. This simple binary coding system can form complex strings of information when multiple bits are present, with a long series of 1s and 0s giving a particular message.
Quantum computing is a much stranger affair, relying instead on the qubit as its unit of information. The qubit can exist in multiple states at the same time (a phenomenon known as superposition). Calculations are performed by manipulating the state of the qubit.
Theoretically, the nature of qubits means they calculate all answers to a mathematical problem simultaneously, and various algorithms can help the computer to indicate which of the solutions the qubits show is the correct one. This can make complex computations exponentially faster than on a classical machine