Pasqal is a quantum computing start-up founded in 2019 by Antoine Browaeys, a physicist at the French National Centre for Scientific Research, as well as other experts in quantum computing and technology. The company aims to build and commercialize a next-generation quantum computer, with applications in fields such as chemistry, cryptography, and artificial intelligence.
The Pasqal team takes inspiration from the latest developments in quantum information processing and photonics, designing a new architecture for quantum computing. Instead of relying on bulk electronics or even individual atoms, Pasqal’s platform utilizes laser-cooled and trapped atomic ions for computation. These ions are precisely controlled and manipulated with lasers, leading to a high degree of coherence and scalability.
One advantage of ion-trap quantum computing is that it is well-suited to error correction and fault tolerance. Each ion serves as a qubit, or quantum bit, which can store and process quantum information. By encoding this information in a particular way and applying quantum gates, the Pasqal system can perform complex algorithms with exponential speedup over classical computers.
Another key benefit of Pasqal’s technology is its modular and flexible nature. The company plans to assemble a quantum computer from a collection of ion traps that can be linked together, forming a so-called “quantum assembly line”. This approach allows for easy scalability and customization, as users can add or remove ion traps depending on their computational needs.
Despite being a relatively young start-up, Pasqal has already made significant strides in its development of both hardware and software for quantum computing. In early 2021, the company unveiled its first quantum processor, called the “Quantum Processing Unit” or QPU. This device contains 20 ion traps and can perform quantum operations on up to 32 qubits.
In addition to building hardware, Pasqal also focuses on developing software and algorithms that can run on its quantum computer. The company’s software suite, called QuaSi, includes tools for circuit design, optimization, and error correction, as well as libraries for specific applications such as quantum chemistry and machine learning.
Pasqal has attracted attention and funding from a variety of sources, including the European Union’s Quantum Flagship program, which awarded the company €10 million in 2020. The start-up has also formed partnerships with academic institutions and industry leaders, such as Atos and Total, to explore the potential of quantum computing in various fields.