There has been a lot of hype about the so-called ‘supermaterial’ graphene. Composed of a single layer of carbon atoms, arranged in a hexagonal lattice, graphene has been tipped to “kill off cancer cells”, “mend human hearts” and “solve the world’s water crisis”. It is expected to one day be found in hair dye, footwear and food.
In terms of recent scientific advances people are most pumped about, the development of graphene is probably only surpassed by the progress being made in quantum computing.
Now, a former University of Sydney researcher is bringing the two together and is hoping to commercialise the result.
“There is a need within the quantum computing market to develop componentry that can be integrated into electronic circuitry while remaining functional at room-temperature, allowing practical non-disruptive solutions that could facilitate the wide-scale point-of-use by consumers,” explained USyd fellow Dr Mohammad Choucair, now CEO of the ASX-listed Archer Exploration.
While working at the university, Choucair led research into the use of graphene in the production of quantum electronic devices that store and process quantum bits or qubits.
The patent rights are currently jointly held by the University of Sydney and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in France, and managed by the university’s Commercial Development and Industry Partnerships group.
Archer today announced it had entered negotiations with University of Sydney for exclusive rights to develop and commercialise intellectual property (IP) related to graphene-based quantum computing technology. The negotiations will facilitate the filing of an international patent application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the company said.
The IP has the potential to “positively impact the quantum computing industry by developing and integrating critical componentry (qubits) that can operate under practical conditions” as opposed to the far below zero temperatures which are required today.
In turn this would reduce “many of the technological barriers to realising practical quantum computing using solid-state materials,” the company said.
“Our negotiations…will allow Archer to leverage our strategic graphite and graphene resources, and our inventory of specialised materials assets held in our Carbon Allotropes business, to find high value, materials-centric, end-to-end solutions to solve one of the most significant problems in our technological age,” Choucair said.
“Given the established years of research and results supporting this IP, it has the potential, over a short time frame, to allow Archer to develop and commercialise a world first, practical quantum computing chip, with significantly reduced costs compared to current approaches,” he added.
Morgan Stanley research suggests there will be a US$10bn addressable market for quantum computing within the next ten years. Goldman Sachs said the quantum computing by 2021 will be a US$29 billion industry.
Commercial interest in the potential of quantum computing as a market and business tool has heightened in recent years.
In Australia, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Telstra are backing the country’s “first quantum computing hardware company” Silicon Quantum Computing (SQC) Pty Ltd which is working to develop and commercialise a prototype circuit, which will serve as a "forerunner to a silicon-based quantum computer".
The country is also home to quantum technology start-ups Q-Ctrl and QxBranch.
The University of Sydney is home to one of Microsoft’s quantum research centres, where researchers are pursuing a topological approach to forming qubits.
“It is important to note that Australia has globally recognised expertise in quantum materials and is at the forefront of quantum technology. Archer is in a strong position to develop and commercialise strategically relevant IP for long-term company success and business development,” Choucair said.
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