This week marks one year since Microsoft announced our bold vision of developing a scalable, full stack quantum computing solution. During that period, we have delivered against our vision and achievement, including expanding our quantum investments across the globe and making our quantum research and technology accessible to a growing community of quantum developers.

Later this year, we will release an update to the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit which will include a new chemical simulation library developed in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), a leader in both chemistry and data analytics. The library can be used in conjunction with NWChem, an open source, high-performance computational chemistry tool funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Together, the chemistry library and NWChem will help enable quantum solutions and allow researchers and developers a higher-level of study and discovery as they tackle today’s computationally complex chemistry problems.

“PNNL is excited to team with Microsoft to demonstrate how quantum computing can advance computational chemistry,” says Steven Ashby, Director of PNNL. “This partnership draws on the complementary capabilities of the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit and NWChem, and the respective expertise in quantum algorithms and computational chemistry. Together, we can explore a variety of applications in areas such as the design of novel catalysts to drive efficiency in fertilizer production—a process that currently consumes two percent of the world’s energy.”

The Quantum Development Kit update will also bring capabilities of modern language design to Q# programming, such as support for IntelliSense in Visual Studio as well as new language capabilities that are valuable for quantum computing. More information on the release will be available later this year.

PNNL joins two additional collaborations we announced this year: the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), both demonstrating the promise of quantum computing and how the Quantum Development Kit enables solution development that tackles complex real-world challenges. With the goal of developing new quantum-based solutions to address problems including energy optimization and improving sustainability, DEWA is the first organization outside the U.S. to participate in the Microsoft Quantum program.  With the goal of improving patient care, CWRU has leveraged Microsoft’s quantum-inspired algorithms and the Quantum Development Kit to enhance their approach to detecting cancerous tumors. In just two months, this collaboration has explored better pulse sequences which can produce higher quality MRI scans resulting in faster and improved diagnostics.

“We can now solve problems that we’ve never been able to solve before. By applying these algorithms, we are now able to take a different approach to the most difficult problems in MRIs—and we believe it will have a broad impact for patients,” says Dr. Mark Griswold, professor of Radiology at CWRU.

Achievements and updates from the Microsoft Quantum Computing program

Microsoft’s expanding global quantum network, partnerships, and contributions

Over the past year we’ve expanded our investment in quantum computing to include a vast network of theory and modeling, fabrication, growth, device development, and robust testing capabilities across the globe. The combination of these facilities enables us to incubate the next generation of innovative materials and design new devices needed for the industry’s first enterprise-ready quantum computer. Pioneering capabilities include growing exotic materials, designing cryogenic controls, and building a hardware and software architecture and infrastructure—each critical components of our vision of the world’s first enterprise-ready quantum computer accessible in Azure for the next generation of innovators.

We have established seven Microsoft Quantum labs across the US, Europe, and Australia. The seventh of these state-of-the-art labs opened its doors officially three days ago in Lyngby, at the Microsoft Development Center Copenhagen. This lab is one of a kind and focused on a quantum materials platform that forms a critical foundation for scalable quantum computation. The lab will tackle a common and central challenge in quantum computing: quantum state decoherence. The groundbreaking new lab will approach this fundamental problem by developing customized hardware that is designed to fabricate complete quantum networks while keeping all processing steps in an ultra-clean environment that mirrors that of the ultra-high vacuum of deep space.

Microsoft performs quantum research alongside some of the best and brightest  minds at universities where we have established several of our Microsoft Quantum Labs. At these locations, our research teams are not only advancing Microsoft Quantum research goals, but they also serve as scientific collaborators and partners with other members of the quantum community, investing and contributing to fundamental research and scientific insights. This groundbreaking work manifests itself in the form of an impressive portfolio of scientific publications—in the last year, our researchers have been in nearly 150 publications in the world’s top-tier scientific journals. This research is paving a new road of fundamental breakthroughs toward our goal of delivering a scalable quantum computer.

In addition to our laboratories, we’ve established many scientific partnerships across the globe to deepen and expand our research investments in the US, Canada, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, Italy, Spain, and Austria. The partnerships augment our global coverage of the top research institutions, laboratories, and talent across the areas of physics, quantum theory, computer science, hardware, chemistry, and materials.

The Quantum Development Kit makes quantum computing accessible

Over the last year, we’ve released industry-leading developer support for quantum computing through the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit. The Quantum Development Kit is designed for all types of developers who are eager to learn how to program quantum computers, while not assuming expertise in quantum physics. The Quantum Development Kit includes the Q# programming language, a quantum computer simulator, integration with Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code, an open source community, and a suite of documentation, tutorials, libraries, and sample algorithms. The Quantum Development Kit supports a broad and inclusive range of development platforms including Windows, Linux, and macOS and programming languages such as Python.

With downloads increasing every day, tens of thousands from around the globe are exploring the Quantum Developer Kit and experiencing the world of quantum computing, from startups to the enterprise and across academia, research, and design. This broad Microsoft quantum ecosystem is enabling problem solvers from various disciplines and skill levels to explore the world of quantum development to solve some of the planet’s most complex challenges. Highlights this year include several developer events from Seattle to Zurich to Dubai, a global coding challenge for Q#, and self-paced tutorials called the Microsoft Quantum Katas.

Quantum computing holds the promise of solving many of today’s otherwise unsolvable problems. The availability of a scalable quantum computer will unlock incredible potential by helping answer questions that cannot be addressed by today’s computers in a realistic amount of time. We are excited about our progress towards our bold vision and believe in the limitless possibilities that will result from enabling developers with the power of quantum programming.  Everyone—whether an engineer, enthusiast, student, or expert, everyone can explore the potential of quantum computing thanks to the power and accessibility of the Quantum Development Kit.