Quantum computer on the anvil?

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - 17:28

Washington: Physicists have moved one step closer to building a quantum computer by creating a tiny "electron superhighway" which they claim could be useful in producing the new computer that will use quantum particles in place of digital transistors found in today`s microchips.

A team at Rice University says the tiny device, calleda "quantum spin Hall topological insulator", which acts as an electron superhighway, is one of the building blocks needed to create quantum particles that store and manipulate data.

Today`s computers use binary bits of data that are either ones or zeros. Quantum computers would use quantum bits, or "qubits", which can be both ones and zeros at the same time, thanks to the quirks of quantum mechanics.

This quirk gives quantum computers a huge edge in performing particular types of calculations, said Prof Rui-Rui Du, who led the team.

"In principle, we don`t need many qubits to create a powerful computer. In terms of information density, a silicon microprocessor with 1 billion transistors would be roughly
equal to a quantum processor with 30 qubits," he added.

In the race to build quantum computers, the physicists are taking a number of approaches to creating qubits. "We are well positioned for the next step. Meanwhile, only experiments can tell whether we can find Majorana fermions and whether they are good candidates for creating stable qubits," Du said.

The findings have been published in the `Physical Review Letters` journal.


First Published: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 - 17:28

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