Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Super fast quantum computers one step closer

Physicists at UC Santa Barbara have made an significant development in electrically controlling quantum states of electrons, a step that could help in the development of quantum computing, and lead to first super computers. What the researchers from Santa Barbara done was that they demonstrated the ability to electrically manipulate, at gigahertz rates, the quantum states of electrons trapped on individual defects in diamond crystals.

So what this has to do with computers? Well these guys believe that this is an important step to development of quantum computers that could use electron spins to perform computations at unprecedented speed.

For their experiment, the scientists used electromagnetic waveguides on diamond-based chips, and with it they were able to generate magnetic fields large and powerful enough to change the quantum state of an atomic-scale defect in less than one billionth of a second.

Lead author Greg Fuchs, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSB, said: "We set out to see if there is a practical limit to how fast we can manipulate these quantum states in diamond, and eventually, we reached the point where the standard assumptions of magnetic resonance no longer hold, but to our surprise we found that we actually gained an increase in operation speed by breaking the conventional assumptions".

It is pretty amazing that researchers can already electrically control the quantum state of just a few atoms at gigahertz rates, which ares speeds speeds similar to ones we have at our computer at home. Of course scientists still have to learn lot of things about controlling the quantum systems but at least they are going in the right direction, and who knows with little luck we may soon witness the first quantum supercomputer.