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The quantum computing market is projected to reach $65 billion by 2030, a hot topic for investors and scientists alike because of its potential to solve incomprehensibly complex problems.

Drug discovery is one example. To understand drug interactions, a pharmaceutical company might want to simulate the interaction of two molecules. The challenge is that each molecule is composed of a few hundred atoms, and scientists must model all the ways in which these atoms might array themselves when their respective molecules are introduced. The number of possible configurations is infinite—more than the number of atoms in the entire universe. Only a quantum computer can represent, much less solve, such an expansive, dynamic data problem.

Mainstream use of quantum computing remains decades away, while research teams in universities and private industry across the globe work on different dimensions of the technology.

A research team led by Xu Yi, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science, has carved a niche in the physics and applications of photonic devices, which detect and shape light for a wide range of uses including communications and computing. His research group has created a scalable quantum computing platform, which drastically reduces the number of devices needed to achieve quantum speed, on a photonic chip the size of a penny.

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