World-first commercial product targets the toughest problems in quantum computing.

On December 4, 2018 Q-CTRL launched BLACK OPAL to the public. It is the world’s first commercially available software suite designed to improve the performance of quantum computing hardware.

BLACK OPAL helps address the single most important problem in the field of quantum computing - hardware error.

“This is the beginning of a new phase in the development of quantum technology,” said Professor Michael Biercuk, Q-CTRL’s founder and chief executive.

Quantum computers promise to solve problems that are otherwise practically impossible for conventional computers. This includes vital computations in pharmaceutical research, and even obscure mathematical problems that power information security and e-commerce.

Motivated by this potential, some of the world’s largest companies, startups, and academics are now working to build the first generation of useful quantum computers.

However, these teams face a major problem; the hardware used in quantum computing is extremely fragile. Over time, the “quantum-ness” we try to exploit becomes lost due to interference from the environment, rendering the hardware useless for computing. As a result, programs or algorithms tend to accumulate a lot of errors.

For quantum computing to move beyond research-grade machines and scale up to functioning systems capable of solving real problems, the inherent instability of the hardware needs to be reduced.

BLACK OPAL allows teams to stabilize their quantum hardware, leveraging Q-CTRL’s deep expertise in the field of quantum control. It is based on proven techniques that help to keep quantum hardware stable against the onslaught of their environments, similar to how a properly timed sprinkler system can keep your lawn green in a tough summer environment.

This software package provides expert-designed tools to help customers reduce errors and extend the useful lifetime of any quantum hardware.

“We have more than a decade of experience addressing the problem of errors and instability in quantum hardware,” Professor Biercuk said.

Through powerful computational tools and advanced visualizations, BLACK OPAL now empowers the community to perform like they have direct access to a dedicated team of quantum control engineers without having to build one themselves.

The software is suitable for all users, ranging from junior students learning about quantum physics through to professional teams in quantum computing looking to put the most advanced optimization tools to work in their systems.

What is truly unique about BLACK OPAL is the way this technology is delivered. Instead of exclusively providing access to a technical codebase, Q-CTRL has invested heavily in the user interface to help customers grasp what can be a complex discipline.

“We’ve designed BLACK OPAL with the customer experience front of mind,” Professor Biercuk said.

“And as users become comfortable with the power of quantum control, we provide pathways to transition to automation and integration of control into professional workflows.”

Alexei Marchenkov is the founder and CEO of Bleximo Corp , a quantum technology company and Q-CTRL customer based in Berkeley, California.

Dr Marchenkov said: “BLACK OPAL helps our team directly leverage Q-CTRL’s deep expertise in quantum control to solve some of our toughest problems building a new class of application-specific quantum computers.

“This software - and its focus on high-quality visualizations - enables us to build intuition for very complicated concepts outside of our core areas of expertise.”

James Hardiman , a partner at Data Collective (DCVC), a California-based investor in Q-CTRL, said: “Q-CTRL has exploded out of the gate - building a deeply technical, commercially available, enterprise-grade product in less than a year that addresses one of the core issues in building viable quantum computers - hardware error. They have also already signed agreements with IBM, Bleximo and others, showing that their technology is applicable across architectures.”

Phil Morle , a partner at Main Sequence Ventures , an Australian venture capital investor in Q-CTRL, said: “After decades in the labs, it appears that a new quantum-powered industry is emerging and we are excited to see Q-CTRL playing a crucial role. I think we might see useful quantum computers sooner than we had thought.”

“We’re very proud of our contribution helping to build the quantum economy by sharing this technology with as many users as possible,” Professor Biercuk said.

BLACK OPAL will be available freely to the public on a trial basis into 2019.