Quantum computers exploit the bizarre features of quantum physics -- uncertainty, entanglement, and measurement -- to perform tasks that are impossible using conventional means, such as computing over ungodly amounts of data, and communicating via teleportation. I will describe the architecture of a quantum computer based on individual atomic clock qubits, suspended and isolated with electric fields, perfectly replicable with no idle errors, and individually addressed with laser beams. This leading physical representation of a quantum computer has allowed unmatched demonstrations of small algorithms and emulations of hard quantum problems with more than 50 quantum bits. While this system can solve some esoteric tasks that cannot be accomplished in conventional devices, it remains a great engineering challenge to build a quantum computer big enough to be generally useful for society. But the good news is that this is not a scientific challenge, as we know the technology needed and it's not quantum.
Christopher Monroe is the Bice Zorn Professor of Physics and a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, and Co-Founder and Chief Scientist of IonQ, Inc. Monroe specializes in the isolation of individual atoms for applications in quantum information science. At NIST in the 1990s, Monroe led the team that demonstrated the first quantum logic gate. Since 2000, Monroe was at the University of Michigan, the University of Maryland, and as of 2021 will be Professor of ECE and Physics at Duke University. His research group has pioneered all aspects of trapped atomic ion based quantum computers, making the first steps toward a scalable, reconfigurable, and modular quantum computer system. In 2016, he co-founded IonQ, a startup company leading the way in the fabrication of full-stack quantum computers. Monroe is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and was one of the key architects of the recent U.S. National Quantum Initiative.