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A Circuit Board for Quantum Computing

Tue, 07/30/2013 - 9:24am
The Associated Press

Omni Circuit Boards, a British Columbia-based circuit board manufacturer, has announced the successful development of an aluminum monometal wire-bonded circuit board. The prototype, designed and manufactured for use in a D-Wave Systems quantum supercomputer, allows for superconductivity and operation in low temperatures just above absolute zero.

This development - often considered to be technically impossible because of challenges involved in the manufacturing process - is the result of years of study and collaborative effort. Omni President Paul Jackson notes the breakthrough could allow for new possibilities in advanced wire-bonding and cryogenics. He also points out the board is the first of its kind and could mark the beginning of new ideas in superconductivity.

"Because aluminum allows for superconductivity near the point where all thermal activity ceases, producing low-tolerance circuits with these materials opens up a new range of applications. In other words, circuit boards will now be able to operate in environments not available to us before. We suspect a number of universities, governmental agencies, and leading technology companies will be eager to test them in their labs and ultimately find interesting ways to put them to work."

Although Omni is being careful not to release the exact process involved in manufacturing their aluminum print circuit boards, they are sharing a few details about the product and its capabilities:

-- Unlike copper printed circuit boards, those made with aluminum superconduct at 500 milliKelvin, making them ideal for cryogenic applications -- The Omni board is the first to have the entire electrical path superconducting, from the aluminum wirebond to the aluminum/copper bilayer trace on the PCB to the solder pads, resulting in significantly increased performance and reliability. This allows a Chip-on-board (COB) circuit with zero electrical resistance and zero heat generation. -- The aluminum/copper bilayer also provides improved thermal conductivity when the aluminum superconducts (electrically)

Jackson states that, although the first aluminum boards are already in operation, continued development and refinement will continue taking place over the next few months as inquiries arrive and new applications are developed. He invites professors, research departments, and other interested parties to contact Omni directly to discuss uses, product tolerances, and other details.

"This is an exciting day for us at Omni and anyone who loves seeing breakthroughs in technology manufacturing," Jackson says. "We are excited to see where the next few years will take us with aluminum circuit board printing."

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