They also are working on further optimizations including distributing the decryption problem among a network of smaller quantum computers.
In 2015, researchers estimated that a quantum computer would need a billion qubits to break 2048-bit RSA encryption. Current quantum computers have about 70-100 qubits for noisy superconduction qubits and will soon have 5600 for D-Wave Quantum annealing systems.
A quantum computer will be able to break regular commercial financial encryption using 20 million qubits in just eight hours.
They found a more efficient way to perform a mathematical process called modular exponentiation. This is the process of finding the remainder when a number is raised to a certain power and then divided by another number. This process is the most computationally expensive operation in Shor's algorithm.