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May 23, 2023 | Tom Ballard

East TN at the heart of the quantum computing revolution

Chattanooga's EPB Quantum NetworkSM powered by Qubitekk and ORNL's Quantum Computing User Program are drawing attention to the region.

Quantum computing is getting a great deal of attention globally, and the East Tennessee region is right in the heart of the emerging technology.

As previously reported in, Chattanooga made history in late 2022 with the announcement of the announced EPB Quantum NetworkSM powered by Qubitekk. It is America’s first industry-led, commercially available quantum network designed for private companies as well as government and university researchers to run quantum equipment and applications in an established fiber optic environment. The Founder of Qubitekk is Duncan Earl, a former researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), whom we spotlighted in this recent article.

Now comes word from ORNL that researchers used its Quantum Computing User Program (QCUP) to perform the first independent comparison test of leading quantum computers. The study surveyed 24 quantum processors and ranked results from each against performance numbers touted by such vendors as IBMRigetti, and Quantinuum, formerly known as Honeywell.

The research team concluded most of the machines yielded acceptable performance by current quantum standards and found what may be a useful means to test the claims made by a variety of vendors.

“I think this study illustrates how difficult the task can be to capture a consistent benchmark for a technology as new and as volatile as quantum computing,” said Elijah Pelofske, the study’s lead author and a student researcher at New Mexico Tech and Los Alamos National Laboratory. “Our understanding of quantum computing continues to evolve, and so does our understanding of the appropriate benchmarks.”

The findings appeared in IEEE Transactions on Quantum Engineering.

So, what exactly is quantum computing?

According to this ORNL news release, classical computers store information in bits equal to either 0 or 1. In other words, a bit, like a light switch, exists in one of two states: on or off. Quantum computing uses the laws of quantum mechanics to store information in qubits, the quantum equivalent of bits. Qubits can exist in more than one state simultaneously via quantum superposition and carry more information than classical bits.

Without getting into the technical weeds, that difference from classical computing could fuel such innovations as vastly more powerful supercomputers, incredibly precise sensors, and impenetrably secure communications — all elements of the quantum computing revolution hoped for by proponents

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