R&D company Silex Systems (ASX:SLX) has been working on a process to allow for the commercial production of high-purity ‘Zero-Spin Silicon’ (ZS-Si).

And since it commenced in December 2019, things have been going pretty well.

Along with project partners — Silicon Quantum Computing Pty Ltd (SQC) and the University of NSW (UNSW) — Silex has been figuring out how to produce ZS-Si using a variant of its laser isotope separation (LIS) technology.

The three-stage project is due for completion in 2022, and Silex announced it had completed the first stage in June 2020 with a proof of concept for the silicon enrichment process.

It’s currently in stage two — designing and construction of scaled-up prototype equipment.

As part of that process, the company today announced that it had validated the “commercial synthesis of feed material for the Zero-Spin Silicon (ZS-Si) laser enrichment process”.

If things keep going according to plan, Silex reckons the development of the technology has pretty big implications for Australia’s positioning in the transition to quantum computing.

“Should the ZS-Si project be successful, it would enable Australia to establish itself as the world-leader in ZS-Si production, creating a new value-added export market,” SLX said.

The enriched silicon generated from the SZ-Si process will be a key input in the fabrication of processor chips that will power silicon-based quantum computers.

Thousands of times more powerful than normal computers, the development of quantum computers is a priority of tech names such as Google, Microsoft and IBM who are all vying for leadership in the field, Silex says.

Investors appear to agree that it might be a thing. From March lows of 20c, SLX shares rose again to a new high of $1.60 this morning.

The SZ-Si project is also being supported by a $3m grant from the federal government.

An off-take agreement will see SQC acquire the first batches of SZ-Si in three separate payments of $300,000, two of which have already been made.

With its latest update, Silex said the project remains on track to achieve its two key objectives – proof that the laser enrichment process can product SZ-Si; and that it can make enough to reach commercial scale.

“Silex will retain ownership of the ZS-Si production technology and related intellectual property developed through the project,” the company said.