For more than 20 years, the quantum computer has been fantasizing. Long theoretical, its promises seem to have reached a milestone in 2019, when Google proved that its Sycamore processor was capable of performing a complex and useless task faster than a supercomputer. IBM has since joined the ‘quantum supremacy’ club, but traditional computers have come back into the game, as a Chinese team proved in August.
How do these machines of the future, which push the limits of physics and chemistry, work? And above all, what can they be used for? 20 Minutes visited Google’s “quantum” campus in Santa Barbara and met its chief engineer, Erik Lucero.
Optimistic about the potential of this technology which could make it possible to carry out planetary simulations to tackle climate change, or to discover new drugs, the researcher remains cautious: the sector is still at an analog stage equivalent to that of computers. tube systems of the 1940s, and the technological challenges are immense. Lucero insists: “The quantum computer is not going to replace the smartphone or the PC. It will be complementary to existing technologies. »