Microsoft-led team retracts quantum breakthrough

A team led by Microsoft has withdrawn a contentious research paper on quantum computing that was published in 2018. The study claimed to have discovered evidence of an elusive subatomic particle that Microsoft said could aid in the development of more powerful computers. However, it is now stated that mistakes were made. A retraction has been published in the journal Nature. The authors of the paper have also apologized for “insufficient scientific rigour.” However, the company has stated that it remains confident in its broader efforts in quantum computing. Microsoftled Team Retracts Disputed Paper.

The paper was hailed as a breakthrough. But some scientists remained skeptical. Quantum computing was viewed as a potentially revolutionary advance that promised to do some tasks much faster. In classical computers, the unit of information or “bit” can have a value of one or zero. Its equivalent in a system quant – the quant bit (qubit) – can be both at the same time and opens the Door for multiple calculations that can be performed simultaneously. However, scientists have struggled to build devices that operate with enough qubits to make them competitive with traditional types of computers. Microsoftled Retracts Disputed Quantumcomputing Paper.

Many large technology companies, such as IBM and Google, as well as smaller competitors such as D-Wave and IonQ, are working on the issue. Microsoft, on the other hand, proposed a different approach, attempting to create qubits with the properties of Majorana particles, the existence of which was first proposed in the 1930s by Italian physicist Ettore Majorana, which it claimed would make them less error prone. In addition, the 2018 paper claimed to have discovered evidence supporting the existence of Majorana particles. “It’s a far more exotic challenge than other approaches to quantum computing,” Prof Charlie Marcus, one of the project’s researchers, told BBC News in 2018. Even so, other scientists were cautious. “It’s one of those things that looks incredibly exciting on paper,” Prof John Morton of University College London said. “However, physics has a habit of throwing wrenches in the works.” Microsoftled Team Disputed Quantumcomputing Paper.

And now, the researchers have accepted they were wrong.

Their errors included:

*having “unnecessarily corrected” some of the data and not having made this clear
*mislabeling a graph, making it misleading

“We can therefore no longer claim the observation of a quantized Majorana conductance and wish to retract this,” they wrote in Nature. An independent review of the original paper found no intentional misrepresentation of the data. There have been 79 retractions from Nature since its founding in 1869, including eight last year, according to the monitoring service Retraction Watch. Microsoftled Disputed Quantumcomputing Paper.

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Zulfi Alam, Microsoft’s vice president of quantum computing, said in a statement that the authors’ handling of the incident was a “excellent example of the scientific process at work,” and that the company remains confident in its approach to developing quantum computers. A spokesperson for Nature said in a statement that the journal strives to quickly update the scientific record when published results are challenged, but that “these issues are often complex, and as a result, it can take time for editors and authors to fully unravel them.”


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