Chip giant Intel Corp. on Thursday revealed that it is joining the race to develop quantum computers joining the ranks of IBM, Google and Lockheed Martin.

Unlike conventional digital computers, quantum computers tap on quantum bits that simultaneously exist in multiple states offering potentials for solving problems that are currently beyond the reach of available hardware.

Intel is investing $50 million and engineering resources for a collaboration to advance research on quantum computing partnering with Dutch institute QuTech, which was formed in 2013 by the Delft University of Technology and the Dutch Organization for Applied Research (TNO).

The 10-year partnership involves research and materials. Intel and Qu-Tech are in particular interested to apply quantum technology to problems that include the likes of simulating the behavior and structures of molecules that are not currently feasible.

QuTech lead scientist Lieven Vandersypen said that there are many materials that are still too complex for the ordinary computer to shed light on their properties.

Once such knowledge becomes available, researchers would be able to work on superconducting materials capable of carrying electricity much more efficiently over great distances. Quantum computer could also have crucial applications for making and breaking codes for purposes of commercial and national security.

Scientist have long been trying to apply quantum physics to computing and there appears to be an interest in the field.

Besides Intel, other big companies and government agencies that are involved with quantum computing include NASA, which has experimented with quantum computer from Canadian start-up D-wave systems. Lockheed Martin, which bought a D-wave computer, intended to use the technology for creating and testing complex space, radar and aircraft systems.

Search engine giant Google also has a quantum computer lab and IBM has allotted significant amounts in investments for quantum computing research in its lab. Microsoft Corp. also actively works in the field.

Former IBM researcher Chad Rigetti, who is now head of quantum-computing startup Rigetti Computing, said that Intel has actually arrived late in the quantum computing field and that its partnership with QuTech could help it catch up.

Corporate Vice President Mike Mayberry, who helps in leading Intel's research on future technology, said that the company is wading into quantum technology only after recent signs of progress in the field emerged. He said that the company sees means of tackling some of the technology's remaining hurdles.

"We came to the realization that the rate of progress was limited by some things we thought Intel could add value to," Mayberry said.

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