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IBM unveiled a concept of a refrigerator for cooling quantum computers

IBM has unveiled the Goldeneye supercooler. It will be a proof-of-concept dissolution refrigerator capable of cooling "future generations of quantum computers.

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However, the refrigerator is not yet intended for use with IBM quantum processors.

Goldeneye can cool a volume three times the volume of domestic home refrigerators (1.7 vs. 0.4-0.7) to open space temperatures. So IBM cooled Goldeneye to an operating temperature of -273.1°C (about 25 mK) and put a quantum processor in it.

Goldeneye requires 10 times less space than modern large-scale dissolution refrigerators. At the same time, an equivalent amount of quantum equipment can be placed there.

Dissolution refrigerators are experimental cryogenic devices that cool a volume of space to milli-Kelvin (mK) mode using a mixture of two helium isotopes called helium-3 (He-3) and helium-4 (He-4). Refrigerators with dissolution technology perform this cooling by using a series of stages to remove heat from the helium isotope mixture and then using vacuum pumps to circulate and dilute He-3 in the He-3/He-4 mixture until the target temperature is reached. Until recently, all dissolution refrigerators were "wet" systems, requiring liquid nitrogen and other cryogenic fluids to begin cooling. Modern refrigerators are more often "dry," using a mechanical component called a cryocooler, which provides initial temperatures of 50 K and 4 K to pre-cool the helium mixture.

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The Goldeneye design features a completely new frame and cryostat design - the main barrel-shaped component responsible for cooling - to maximize experimental volume while reducing noise and achieving the temperatures needed to cool the experimental quantum equipment. The design is modular, which greatly simplified prototyping. The cryostat has a fold-out design that allows the outer vacuum chamber to open sideways and eliminates the need to remove the entire outer shell to access the equipment inside. The fully automated Goldeneye system includes a specially designed boom crane, which in the future will allow even one person to remotely operate the refrigerator using an open-source visualization platform.

Inside the cryostat, a set of 10 internal plates can be installed to secure components in its upper and lower halves: five "regular" units on top and five inverted units on the bottom. It can also accommodate up to six individual coolers, providing about ~10 mW of cooling power at 100 mK and over 24 W of cooling power at 4 K. Finally, the weight of the entire system - 6.7 metric tons - also helps dampen vibration, reducing the need for damping methods.

A qubit chip was placed inside Goldeneye. The researchers were able to reproduce a coherence time of about 450 microseconds, similar to coherence times measured in other commercial refrigeration dilution systems. At the same time, the cubit's performance was not degraded.

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Goldeneye will be moved to IBM's Quantum Computing Center. There it will continue to be tested to determine future cooling needs for quantum data centers. The cooler is planned to be used to improve IBM's quantum processors after 2025. Specifically, its capabilities will be used to develop the Bluefors Kide cryogenic platform working with IBM Quantum. In 2023, the company will begin deploying IBM Quantum System Two on Bluefors Kide.

In November 2021, IBM announced that it had succeeded in creating the 127-qubit Eagle quantum processor. The company plans to release an Osprey processor with 433 qubits, and in 2023, a Condor with 1,121 qubits.

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