As of today, the Deutsches Museum in Munich has included a “Sycamore” quantum processor from Google among its exhibits. On one of these chips with 54 qubits, Google demonstrated “quantum supremacy” in autumn 2019, which means for the first time it carried out a calculation that no conventional computer could have mastered in a practicable time frame.
There are only a dozen or so Sycamore chips in total. The new exhibit was specially made for the Deutsches Museum. Like all Sycamores it is more or less unique; Quantum chips are a long way from error-free mass production with practically identical end products.
The first of its kind
Wolfgang Heckl, General Director of the Museum, was visibly pleased with the new addition at the handover ceremony. It is not just the first museum in the world to be able to issue the chip. It is also the first time ever that a Sycamore chip has left Google’s laboratories. In keeping with these superlatives, the museum counts the Sycamore among its “Erstis”, a series of exhibits that each “the first of its kindAmong other things: the first diesel engine, the first telephone, the first car, the first computer – and now the first quantum processor that has proven to be superior to conventional computers. (Even if IBM criticized Google’s quantum supremancy proof. )
By the way, the “first computer” means Konrad Zuse’s Z3. The Deutsches Museum has a replica of the machine that is basically ready for operation. This would be much more difficult with the Sycamore, among other things because of the necessary cooling to a few millikelvin. The superconducting qubits used by Google only work at these temperatures. There are also chillers in the Deutsches Museum, but the complete shielding of the processor from external (heat) influences does not go well with its role as an exhibit.
From tomorrow Sycamore can be viewed in the Deutsches Museum, initially in the “Museum History” section. At Google, meanwhile, development continues; the next big milestone is an error-correcting logical qubit, consisting of around 100 physical qubits. Within a decade, Google wants to use it to build a complete error-correcting quantum computer with around one million physical qubits. That should be on the relatively new “Quantum AI Campus”“happened, which among other things houses a” fab “(ie a production facility) for quantum chips. Perhaps that means there will soon be significantly more Sycamores.