Archer Exploration Limited (“Archer”, the “Company”) (ASX:AXE) is pleased to announce that the Company has assembled the first qubit component of a prototype room-temperature operation quantum computing qubit processor (“chip”), as part of its pioneering quantum technology project 12CQ (pronounced “one two cee cue”).
- Archer team assembles the first qubit material component (“qubit”) of the 12CQ room-temperature qubit processor (“chip”) with nanometre precision.
- The ability to directly position individual qubits is a key requirement for building a scalable chip and derisks Archer’s chip technology development.
- The achievement is definitive proof for addressing a global quantum computing industry key success driver for early-stage quantum computing technology development related to scalability, practicality and use1.
- NSW Government funding received to support continued prototype facilities access and chip development.
- Chip commercialisation to continue through the prototyping of hardware componentry into a proof-of-concept minimum viable chip product for room-temperature quantum computing technology directly onboard modern devices.
Commenting on the Company’s 12CQ developments, Archer CEO, Dr Mohammad Choucair, said: “This outstanding achievement further strengthens our commercial readiness, as we’ve met a key milestone in derisking and progressing the chip technology development, while demonstrating a key success factor [of a scalable qubit architecture] the quantum computing community commonly uses to qualify the most promising early-stage, long-term potential solutions to practical quantum computing.”
12CQ Qubit Componentry Assembly
To assemble the first qubit component of Archer’s chip, a single qubit was isolated and precisely positioned on a silicon wafer (Fig. 1) (“Process”), with the Process being performed at room-temperature. The Process overcomes the key technological barrier of demonstrating the possibility of qubit scalability in the fabrication of a working chip prototype, representing a minimum viable product: a product chip at a commercial readiness that can validate solutions to direct consumer ownership of quantum computing powered technology.
The ability to directly position individual qubits is a key requirement for building a scalable chip. To achieve this, Archer uses a unique carbon-based qubit that has the potential to enable chip operation at room-temperature and integration onboard modern devices (see Quantum Technology & Archer’s 12CQ Advantage). The qubit is the fundamental component of Archer’s 12CQ prototype chip, as without the qubit, quantum computing cannot be performed.
Fig. 1. Electron microscopy image of a single qubit of about 50 nanometre size (indicated by the arrow) positioned with nanometre-scale precision on a silicon wafer surface.
The Process was performed with nanometre scale accuracy on silicon substrates (however the Process was not limited to silicon) and was repeatable and reproducible. This level of positional accuracy and control is required to build a working prototype, and the Process allows Archer to quickly build and test quantum information processing devices incorporating a number of qubits; individual qubits; or a combination of both, which is necessary to meet Archer’s aim of building a chip for a practical quantum computer. Further improvements and optimisation to the Process are likely to reduce the time required to build a working chip prototype.
Commenting on the qubit componentry assembly, Archer CEO, Dr Mohammad Choucair, said: “The qubits are only a few tens of nanometres in size and this means we need to have a high level of accuracy in physically positioning our qubits to successfully build a working device. It is incredibly difficult to apply such a high of degree precision in controlling qubit location; however, we have unambiguously achieved this, making it possible to scale our chip qubits.”
NSW TechVoucher Funding
The Archer team is building chip prototypes at the Research and Prototype Foundry within the world-class, $150 million purpose-built Sydney Nanoscience Hub facility, at the University of Sydney (“Sydney”). The Facilities Access Agreement with Sydney (ASX Announcement 3 April 2019) was varied to account for the awarding of competitive NSW TechVoucher funding (“Funding”) to Archer’s wholly owned subsidiary, Carbon Allotropes Pty Limited. The maximum Funding amount of $15,000 was awarded and will be used to continue accessing facilities at the Research and Prototype Foundry to build chip prototypes.
The technical development at the heart of 12CQ is a world-first. Archer intends to continue technology de-risking value-added development of the 12CQ qubit processor chip by completing the next stages of component assembly towards a proof-of-concept prototype chip. The prototype chip validation is required to establish a minimum viable product.
Archer intends to commercialise chip products through licencing and direct sales (ASX Announcement 29 May 2019) by seeking to establish commercial partnerships with highly resourced and skilled organisations including software developers and hardware manufacturers, that could allow for product scale, IP transfer, and distribution channels.
Background and Market Summary
Quantum Technology & Archer’s 12CQ Advantage
Quantum computers represent the next generation of powerful computing. They consist of a core device (a chip) made from materials capable of processing quantum information (often called qubits) necessary to solve complex calculations. One of the biggest challenges to wide-spread use by consumers and businesses involves keeping the qubit stable at room-temperature while integrating into electronic componentry. The development of quantum computers is envisioned to impact industries reliant on computational power, including finance, cryptocurrency and blockchain.
During his previous employment at Sydney, Archer CEO, Dr Mohammad Choucair, invented the first material known to overcome both the limitations of sub-zero (cryogenic) operating temperatures and electronic device integration for qubits. The conducting carbon material was able to process qubits at room temperature and offered the potential for scalability: a solid-state material of workable dimensions for nanofabrication (less than 100 nanometres in size), easily processed and handled, and produced in quantities useful for quantum computing.
This unique combination of physical, chemical, and structural properties has the potential to reduce commercial barriers to quantum computing and make it globally accessible. The patented device incorporating these materials forms the subject of IP that was exclusively licenced from Sydney by Archer (ASX Announcement 12 December 2018), and the materials are available in Archer’s wholly owned subsidiary Carbon Allotropes.
Market and Key Growth Catalysts
According to McKinsey, currently the highest-value in the quantum computing economy is derived from technology development in the US, EU, and Australia. Morgan Stanley forecasts that quantum technology could double the value of high-end computers to US$10 billion by 2027.- Investment bank Goldman Sachs predicts that by 2021, quantum computing could become a $US29 billion industry, while the Boston Consulting Group highlighted the dependence of the market size on achieving technical milestones over the coming decades.
Globally, quantum computing forms part of the mature semiconductor and electronic parts manufacturing industry (SEPMI). The SEPMI is a US$500 billion+ revenue market, with approx. 70% of manufacturing concentrated in Asia. Approximately 40% of costs in the market relate to materials, and the industry sees margins of approximately 10-20%. There are few companies with large market share including Samsung, Intel, and Qualcomm, giving rise to potential opportunities for mergers and acquisitions based on disruptive technology integration.
 Philipp Gerbert and Frank Rueß. Boston Consulting Group. November 2018. https://www.bcg.com/en-au/publications/2018/next-decade-quantum-computing-how-play.aspx
 Choucair et al. Nature Communications 7, Article number: 12232 (2016) https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms12232
 Appears in: https://www.economist.com/news/essays/21717782-quantum-technology-beginning-come-its-own
 A Quantum Leap Toward a Computing Revolution. Morgan Stanley. Oct 2017. https://www.morganstanley.com/ideas/quantum-computing
 Quantum Computing – Weird Science or the Next Computing Revolution? Morgan Stanley. August 2017.
 Quantum Computers: Solving problems in Minutes, not Millennia. Goldman Sachs. February 2018. http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/pages/toshiya-hari-quantum-computing.html
 Matt Langione, Corban Tillemann-Dick, Amit Kumar, and Vikas Taneja. Boston Consulting Group. May 2019. https://www.bcg.com/publications/2019/quantum-computers-create-value-when.aspx
 Global Semiconductor and Electronic Parts. IBISWorld Industry Report. May 2018.