In the race for the quantum computing platform of the future, neutral atoms have been a bit of an underdog. While quantum bits (qubits) based on neutral atoms have several attractive characteristics, including the ease of scaling up qubit numbers and performing operations on them in parallel, most attention has focused on rival platforms. Many of the largest machines are built with superconducting qubits, including those developed at IBM, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. Other companies have opted for ions, like Honeywell and IonQ, or photons, like Xanadu.

In the past few weeks, though, several eye-catching developments have pushed neutral atoms towards the front of the pack. One of them came from a start-up called Atom Computing, which announced in late October that it will soon have a 1000-qubit neutral-atom machine ready for customers – the first commercial quantum device to pass this milestone. The others came from three teams of researchers who published separate studies in Nature describing neutral-atom platforms with low noise, new error mitigation capacities and strong potential for scaling up to even larger numbers of qubits.

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