US foundry SkyWater expands engagement with PsiQuantum to develop silicon photonics-based quantum computer

Misha Lu, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

US-based SkyWater Technology, a Category 1A Trusted Foundry accredited by the Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA) under the US Department of Defense, announced on May 2 that it has expanded its development agreement with PsiQuantum, a company seeking to deliver a commercially viable and error-corrected general purpose quantum computer using silicon photonics.

While there are many different approaches to building small numbers of qubits, the photonic approach has significant technical advantages at the scale required for error correction. PsiQuantum believes that 1,000,000 qubits are required to achieve fault tolerance and error correction.

Founded in 2015, PsiQuantum also partnered with GlobalFoundries in 2021 to produce quantum photonic and electronic chips, marking a manufacturing milestone in photonic quantum computing.

In January 2023, PsiQuantum has signed a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to work on its Utility-Scale Quantum Computing (US2QC) program, the primary goal of which is to determine if an underexplored approach to quantum computing is capable of achieving utility-scale operation much faster than conventional predictions.

"Using single photons as qubits offers huge advantages, yet this approach to quantum computing has been surprisingly underexplored, especially in the United States," said Jeremy O'Brien, CEO and Co-Founder of PsiQuantum, in a press release. "The advantages of the photonic approach – including its potential to leverage existing semiconductor manufacturing techniques – are most apparent at scale, and we believe this was a major contributing factor in the contract being awarded."

Now, PsiQuantum and SkyWater have teamed up to develop silicon photonic chips in the latter's manufacturing facility in Bloomington, Minnesota.

"We are delighted with the excellent 200 mm photonics capabilities of SkyWater and how they satisfy our critical development needs. We have found the partnership with SkyWater beneficial due to the valuable speed and flexibilities of the team and company. Having domestic fabs with proven manufacturing capability and the development flexibility to support our required process flows is key to the success of our product plans," commented Fariba Danesh, chief operating officer at PsiQuantum.

"We are excited to see the unique outcomes of PsiQuantum's technology as well as the substantial technological progress they have achieved at SkyWater," said Steve Kosier, SkyWater's chief technology officer. "PsiQuantum's and SkyWater's engineering teams are working together to co-create the reality of a quantum-enabled world. We look forward to continuing to support them through development and into their production ramp."