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Imperfect quantum technology: Exploiting first generation quantum computers

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  • Full or part time
    Prof S Benjamin
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

Simon Benjamin has an ongoing theory project which uses conventional supercomputers to predict the behaviour of 1st generation quantum computers including their limitations and flaws.

Background: Many research groups around the world are getting close to realizing the first generation of a profoundly powerful new class of technology: quantum computers. Building such a machine means learning to control qubits (quantum bits). Different approaches are being tried: qubits may be individual atoms, or nanostructures in diamond, or superconducting loops. But all have one thing in common: the control we can achieve is far lower than the control we have over bits in conventional computers. The first generation of quantum computers will therefore be imperfect, by comparison to our reliable conventional technologies, but they will still have the potential to be vastly more powerful.

The project: Since 1st generation quantum computers will have imperfect qubits, therefore one must look for tasks that can be successfully performed even in the presence of small errors. A priority would be to study certain physical systems that Oxford experimentalists are working on, especially a hybrid matter-light networks, but the approach would also apply to pure optical processors, monolithic matter systems include superconducting systems, and some alternative approaches such as the D-Wave systems. We also use conventional supercomputers, including the Oxford-based dedicated NQIT cluster operated by ARC which has a value of ~£700,000 to predict which of the many tasks that are suggested for quantum computers can in fact operate successfully in the presence of errors.

This project would suit a student with a strong physics background who wants to work on a theory topic – someone who is interested in analytic “pen and paper” theoretical analysis as well as programming for numerical simulations on high powered computers.

Any questions concerning the project can be addressed to Professor Simon Benjamin ([Email Address Removed]). General enquiries on how to apply can be made by e mail to [Email Address Removed]. You must complete the standard Oxford University Application for Graduate Studies. Further information and an electronic copy of the application form can be found at

Funding Notes

This NQIT hub EPSRC-funded 3.5-year DPhil in Materials studentship will provide full fees and maintenance for a student with home fee status (this includes an EU student who has spent the previous three years (or more) in the UK undertaking undergraduate study). Candidates with EU fee status are eligible for a fees-only award, but would have to provide funding for their living costs from another source such as personal funds or a scholarship. The stipend will be £14,777 per year. Information on fee status can be found at

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