Industrial technology company Silex Systems has been awarded defence funding support for its development of technology to produce zero spin silicon (ZS-Si) needed to manufacture quantum computing chips.
The company has been awarded $5.1 million funding from the Defence Trailblazer for the Concept to Sovereign Capability Program.
The Trailblazer is a partnership between the University of Adelaide and UNSW Sydney, supported by the federal Department of Education.
Zero spin silicon is a material crucial for enabling quantum processing chips based on silicon to store and retrieve information.
The funding will support the establishment of a quantum silicon production plant delivering end to end manufacturing capabilities at the company’s Lucas Heights technology centre in Sydney.
It is anticipated that the first production module will produce between 5kg and 10kg of ZS-Si in the form of halo-silane annually.
Silex has previously announced it is producing ZS-Si at a target purity of 99.995 per cent supported by the federal government’s Cooperative Research Centres Projects (CRC-P) programme.
Silex is contracted to provide zero spin silicon to quantum hardware manufacturer Silicon Quantum Computing (SQC).
Silex’s CEO and Managing Director Michael Goldsworthy said the funding would enable the company to transition ZI-Si enrichment technology from the pilot demonstration level to commercial scale.
This would include the development of product conversion technology to produce gas and solid forms of quantum silicon required by emerging quantum chip fabricators.
Dr Goldsworthy said: “This enables us to capitalise on the results achieved in the recently completed zero spin silicon project for our innovative Silex laser isotope separation technology, and to establish a sovereign and secure supply chain for this critical enabling material for the emerging quantum computing industry.
“Previously the main supply of enriched silicon came from Russia, but this source has been disrupted by geopolitical events.”
Silex’s core laser enrichment technology is also the basis of the company’s technology to produce traditional nuclear fuels as well as Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) and Low Enriched Uranium plus which can be utilised in the new generation of small modular nuclear reactors.
CEO of SQC Professor Michelle Simmons said her company was ‘tremendously excited’ about the expansion of its partnership with Silex through the Trailblazer programme.
Professor Simmons said: “The Trailblazer funding supports Silex’s commercial-scale production of quantum silicon, the key enriched material essential to the manufacture of SQC’s atom-scale quantum computers in Australia.
“The creation of a sovereign supply of this vital material comes at a time when our traditional source of supply has been disrupted.
“We couldn’t be more motivated to support this project.”
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Picture: Silex Systems