Quantum computers could soon be a reality

Last Updated: Friday, January 21, 2011 - 18:10

London: Super-fast quantum computers could
soon be a reality, as scientists claim to have generated 10
billion bits of quantum entanglement in silicon for the first
time.

The breakthrough in silicon -- the basis of the computer
chip -- has important implications for integration with
existing technology, according to a team of international
scientists.

The team, which comprised scientists from Britain, Japan,
Canada and Germany, believe that super-fast quantum computers,
based on quantum bits, called qubits, will be able to test
many possible solutions to a problem at once.

Traditional computers are based on binary switches, or
bits, and can only perform one task at a time.

"Creating ten billion entangled pairs in silicon with
high fidelity is an important step forward for us," Dr John
Morton of Oxford University was quoted as saying by a newspaper.

"We now need to deal with the challenge of coupling these
pairs together to build a scalable quantum computer in
silicon," Dr Morton added.

According to scientists, quantum entanglement involves
the notion that particles can be connected in such a way that
changing the state of one instantly affects the other, even
when they are miles apart.

Albert Einstein once famously described it as "spooky
action at a distance". Other areas of quantum-related research
include ultra-precise measurement and improved imaging.

For this research, the multi-national team used high
magnetic fields and low temperatures to produce entanglement
between the electron and the nucleus of an atom of phosphorous
embedded in a silicon crystal.

The procedure was applied in parallel to a vast number of
phosphorous atoms, the scientists said.

According to them, the electron and the nucleus behave as
a tiny magnet, or so-called `spin`, each of which can
represent a bit of quantum information.

When controlled in the right way, these spins can
interact with each other, they said.

Stephanie Simmons, an Oxford University researcher who
also worked on the team, said: "The key to generating
entanglement was to first align all the spins by using high
magnetic fields and low temperatures.

"Once this has been achieved, the spins can be made to
interact with each other using carefully timed microwave and
radio frequency pulses in order to create the entanglement,
and then prove that it has been made."

The researchers detailed their work in the journal Nature.

PTI



First Published: Friday, January 21, 2011 - 18:10

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