1. Home
  2. Opinion
  3. Mike Machura, CEO of The Phoenix Company of Chicago, Sheds Light on the Role of Blind-mate Connectors for Quantum Computing Systems

Mike Machura, CEO of The Phoenix Company of Chicago, Sheds Light on the Role of Blind-mate Connectors for Quantum Computing Systems

Mike Machura, CEO of The Phoenix Company of Chicago, Sheds Light on the Role of Blind-mate Connectors for Quantum Computing Systems
92
0

by Mike Machura, CEO, The Phoenix Company of Chicago

MPD: Please give me some background on your company and its products.

MM: The Phoenix Company was founded in 1969 to manufacture connectors and RF contacts for aerospace and ground-based military systems. The PkZ (“P” Phoenix, “k” Constant, “Z” Impedance) blind-mate microwave contact was designed in the 1980s to overcome mating challenges resulting from tolerance stack-up in multiport applications. The PkZ was adopted as the standard power amplifier interface by the cellular industry resulting from Phoenix’s work with Motorola and Northern Telecom.

One of the primary benefits of the PkZ is that it can achieve a constant impedance over the industry’s widest axial mating tolerance. We accomplish this by carefully controlling the contact’s inner and outer conductor diameter ratio during mating, with a selection of dielectric materials that consider the likelihood of partial contact engagement resulting from system tolerance stacking. Constant, matched impedance is required for high-performance microwave transmission, which the PkZ accomplishes without using an engagement spring or other external measures.

MPD: Quantum computing seems like it will be a big opportunity for the microwave cable and connector industry. Is Phoenix involved in this emerging market?

MM: I agree that quantum computing will eventually be an enormous market for microwave cables and interface technologies and other passive components, as well as everything from timing solutions to parametric amplifiers. It should also boost the sales of test equipment manufacturers as vector network analyzers and other instruments are part of every system. What I find interesting is that while there’s a lot of attention being paid to quantum computing and advances in the number of effective qubits, there is very little that has anything to do with microwave technology, which is surprising considering that without it no quantum computer could actually be made.

We’ve been involved in this market for six or seven years, and we have some exciting products and seven patents related explicitly to quantum for the multilayered use of interconnects in a quantum system. We build our own cable assemblies that are very small in diameter and very low loss, and our PkZ products are used in each system tier from the top to the bottom. We make the hermetic plate with feedthroughs and our PkZs on either side. From there, we take it out of the bottom and have cables that go into another connector called the HDQ-18. We designed the HDQ18 specifically for quantum as a complete solution for dense board-level connectivity. It connects the dilution refrigerator and cryostat cables to the processor board, and non-magnetic PkZ technology enables mass termination while ensuring constant impedance and consistent thermal transfer between HDQ housings.

The HDQ-18 board-level microwave interconnect solution connects the dilution refrigerator and cryostat cables to the processor board and is based on PkZ technology

We are also working on technologies that will allow us to double the density per port in a quantum system, which we can achieve because the PkZ is a true contact rather than a conventional blind-mate interface. We’ve also embedded a chip attenuator into our PkZ products, making it a plug-and-play solution. That’s a significant benefit in a quantum system where there are an enormous number of microwave cable assemblies whose connectors would otherwise have to be connected and disconnected individually by hand. So, if you have to change an attenuator value, it’s pretty easy to do.

That said, the market is still in its infancy, and it has a long way to go, but I believe it is just going to grab a foothold in every market from medicine to Wall Street, and you can imagine what the financial sector could do with this technology, if they don’t have it already. It’s going to be a great market for us in the future and having spent nearly a decade focusing on the technologies required to transfer microwave signals throughout the entire five-level system, I think we’re in an excellent position to capture market share.

(92)

print

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT