Europe wants to be at the forefront of the next big technological revolution brought about by quantum computing, and Italy is leading the way. On April 27th, the Seecq System Red, the first Italian quantum computer, was presented in Naples. It was developed through a joint-lab between Federico II University and the American company Seeqc. This is an important achievement because it combines superconducting digital electronics with quantum computing. What is the purpose of quantum computing? It is used to solve problems that are currently very difficult even for supercomputers, such as developing new molecules and drugs, predicting climate patterns, creating new materials, and managing risks in finance. Seecq Red is a complete hardware and software system that provides access to digital quantum computing via the cloud, including for commercial use. "Our idea was to build an entire computer with all the functions on a single chip," says John Lévy, founder and CEO of Seeqc (Scalable Energy Efficient Quantum Computing). "This is the feature of our quantum computer: we intend to establish a new technology standard in the quantum field that reduces complexity and errors, and offers accuracy and speed"
Founded in 2018 in Elmsford, New York, with an office in London as well, Seecq is a company that produces superconducting quantum chips. The company received an initial investment of $30 million from venture capital funds, as well as additional investments from M Ventures and LG Ventures. Why did they choose Italy? "Since 2019, we have established an academic partnership with the University of Naples," says Levy. "We were looking for expertise in superconducting chips, and the integration with the quantum processor was achieved with the contribution of engineers from Naples, who participated in the design." The manufacturing took place in the USA, and then the quantum computer based on the chip returned to Naples for final integration and testing. "We are the first in Italy to have created a complete quantum computing platform that facilitates communication between the quantum processor and traditional digital systems," explains Marco Arzeo, Seecq's EuLab manager, head of the Naples laboratory, and a returning brain from CERN in Geneva. "The five-qubit quantum processor is integrated into a multilayer structure with the superconducting digital chip and the communication co-processor. All of this is inside the cooling circuit to keep it at cryogenic temperatures." Quantum phenomena occur at very low temperatures (-273 degrees Celsius) and require complex equipment. The quantum computer is very different from traditional computers: it is contained in a copper cylinder, in the shape of a layered cake. The unit of information is the "qubit" that can represent both 0 and 1, or both states superimposed in an infinite number of combinations. This allows for multiple programs to be run simultaneously, making quantum computers even more powerful than the most advanced supercomputers. However, the challenge to using them for commercial purposes is to reduce their size and power consumption.
John Lévy, CEO and founder of the US company, said, "What's new? It's all on one chip. More speed and accuracy, less errors and complexity"
The advantages of Seecq Red are that quantum computation control occurs directly on the chip itself," explains Arzeo. "We have thus reduced volumes and wiring, with greater stability and less consumption." "Our goal now is to create a Quantum test data center in Naples, available to industry, with the support of some large Italian companies," announces Lévy. "At a time when the Italian government has shown a willingness to invest in quantum technologies, having the first functioning quantum computer, one of the few in Europe, is a great opportunity." For what uses and applications? "In the pharmaceutical and chemical fields, we have already established contacts with companies such as Merck and Basf, and for the study of climate change, some scholars want to incorporate quantum computing into their models." Seecq Red has not yet received European funding: it was born thanks to American investment, plus a contribution from the Campania Region. However, it could enter the national quantum network. The newly created National Hpc (High-performance computing, big data, and quantum computing) research center is managed by Cineca and the National Institute of Nuclear Physics, financed by the Pnrr for 320 million, and aims to create a national network of supercomputers linked to quantum accelerators. "The Federico II of Naples is part of this network," says Simone Montangero, program co-leader and professor of Physics at the University of Padua. "It is one of the four Italian universities selected for the hardware implementation in the Quantum computing program, along with La Sapienza in Rome, the University of Padua, and the Cnr in Florence. The success achieved in Naples is important for research and for Italy's role in superconducting quantum technologies." Europe is developing research on quantum computers based on four technologies: in addition to superconductors, there are those based on photons, ions, and atoms. Europe has invested over 7 billion in Quantum computing, second only to China.