Wired magazine reports:
Microsoft’s Big Win in Quantum Computing Was an ‘Error’ After AllI guess it is going to take more than 5 years. Are they giving up? Of course not.
In a 2018 paper, researchers said they found evidence of an elusive theorized particle. A closer look now suggests otherwise.
In March 2018, Dutch physicist and Microsoft employee Leo Kouwenhoven published headline-grabbing new evidence that he had observed an elusive particle called a Majorana fermion.
Microsoft hoped to harness Majorana particles to build a quantum computer, which promises unprecedented power by tapping quirky physics. Rivals IBM and Google had already built impressive prototypes using more established technology. Kouwenhoven’s discovery buoyed Microsoft’s chance to catch up. The company’s director of quantum computing business development, Julie Love, told the BBC that Microsoft would have a commercial quantum computer “within five years.”
Three years later, Microsoft’s 2018 physics fillip has fizzled. Late last month, Kouwenhoven and his 21 coauthors released a new paper including more data from their experiments. It concludes that they did not find the prized particle after all. An attached note from the authors said the original paper, in the prestigious journal Nature, would be retracted, citing “technical errors.”
Microsoft provided a statement attributed to Kouwenhoven saying he could not comment, because the new paper that reinterprets his group’s results is undergoing peer review. “We are confident that scaled quantum computing will help solve some of humanity’s greatest challenges, and we remain committed to our investments in quantum computing,” he said. Nature added an “editorial expression of concern” to the 2018 paper in April last year, and a spokesperson said this week that the journal is “working with the authors to resolve the matter.” A spokesperson for Delft Technical University said an investigation by its research integrity committee, started in May 2020, is not complete. A person familiar with the process says the final report will likely find that researchers at Delft made mistakes but did not intend to mislead.This seems like a big scam to me. I am supposed to believe that they are building a quantum computer out of Majorana fermions, when their paper showing the existence of Majorana fermions was erroneous and had to be retracted?
Whatever happened, the Majorana drama is a setback for Microsoft’s ambitions to compete in quantum computing. Leading computing companies say the technology will define the future by enabling new breakthroughs in science and engineering.