SINGAPORE (Sept 4): Quantum computing is rapidly shifting from an experimental phase to the rudimentary prototype phase, reported The Financial Times.

By harnessing quantum mechanics -- the physics that govern sub-atomic particles -- tech giants such as Intel and Microsoft are closer to creating quantum computers that are exponentially more powerful than some of the world’s most advanced classical supercomputers.

Quantum computers are particularly useful for handling three main types of problems, say researchers.

The first involves those analysing the natural world. For instance, using computers to model the behaviour of molecules but with a much higher degree of realism compared to today’s computers.

One of the first sectors to benefit from quantum computing will be in the area of computational chemistry where the massive increase in computing power will drive the discovery of new materials.

Quantum computing is also expected to bring benefits to machine learning, particularly those that make use of probabilistic algorithms.

The third area involves complex optimisation problems that have way too many variables to handle for today’s traditional computers.

In the financial and banking sector, real-world applications of quantum computers include helping banks build more realistic models of financial markets, optimising the investment portfolios of clients and strengthening cryptography in fintech.

What then is stopping quantum computers from transcending the realm of science fiction into science fact?

For now, the qubits or quantum bits that hold information are sometimes unstable as they can only hold their quantum state for a tiny fraction of a second.

When working together, such unpredictable interactions between qubits could lead to high computational error rates.