The $940 million AUD funding will be provided by the Australian Commonwealth and Queensland Governments, split equally, through a financial package, comprised of equity, grants, and loans. The processor is expected to contain at least 1 million physical qubits, include fault tolerance and will be installed at a location near Brisbane Airport in Brisbane, Australia. PsiQuantum has been developing a photonics based machine using is fusion based architecture for several years. The Quantum Computing Report previously published an overview of their architecture in 2022 and the company has just released a pre-print on arXiv that provides additional detail. Although the planned number of logical qubits that can be formed from 1 million physical qubits hasn’t been released, we expect it to have at several thousand. This would put it ahead of any roadmap we have seen from any vendor.

The company achieves the large number of qubits by implementing a multi-chip approach and have achieved good chip-to-chip fidelities numbers. The machine used photon transmitting and receiving modules that run at liquid helium temperatures. Although this still requires cooling to only a few degrees kelvin, it is much easier and less costly than using the dilution refrigerators required in superconducting based quantum processors that require cooling to millikelvin temperatures.

Because this system is implemented using a very large network of smaller processors connected together, this project will require a massive facility consisting of multiple buildings including a cryoplant, a large computer data center, offices, and research center. A conceptual diagram of what the site layout will look like is shown below.

Some of PsiQuantum’s previous collaborations that we have reported on in the past include Mitsubishi Chemical for energy efficient material design, the UK’s Hartree Centre for fault tolerant computing applications, DARPA for its Underexplored Systems for Utility-Scale Quantum Computing (US2QC) program, Mercedes-Benz for battery chemistry simulation, and others.

With this new funding, the company has raised about $1.3 billion and according to LinkedIn, the company has over 200 employees. There has been some controversy in Australia due to the award going to a U.S. company through a non-transparent expression of interest process, but it should be noted that several members of PsiQuantum’s team, including CEO Jeremy O’Brien and Chief Architect Terry Rudolph, originally came from Australia. A question being asked is whether the Australian government will be making additional large investments of this type with other quantum companies, particularly those that are already based in Australia.

Australia’s Federal Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic, indicated that the government does not want to repeat past mistakes where a technology was invented in Australia and then commercialized elsewhere. An example mentioned were photovoltaic cells, which were invented at the University of New South Wales, but are now manuactured at high volumes in China. A study that was commissioned by PsiQuantum and performed by Mandala predicts that this investment will ultimately create 2,800 jobs in Australia and generate a net present value of $5.1 billion in additional economic activity over a nine year period.

For additional information about this development you can view a press release provided by PsiQuantum which can be accessed here. And a technical paper that describes their most recent technical progress is available on arXiv here.

April 29, 2024