Engineers at the University of New South Wales in Australia believe that they have made a breakthrough in the design of quantum computers, allowing for one large enough to actually be useful.
Quantum Computers Are Faster and Perform Better than Supercomputers
Quantum computers are designed to be able to perform tasks that not even supercomputers can do, taking advantage of the quantum entanglement that occurs among very tiny particles. To do this, they must be made of quantum bits, or “qubits.” Qubits are basically particles the size of an atom, or even smaller, which are programmed to perform certain functions, like even tinier microchips.
The problem with this model? To interact with each other, the qubits have to be no more than about fifty atoms apart, close enough for their electrons can touch and entanglement to occur. The design of such architecture is incredibly difficult to pull off.
This new strategy involves what the creators call “flip-flop qubits,” which are able to interact despite being farther apart. The qubit pair has two modes: “0,” where the electron spin is down and the nucleus spin is up, and “1,” where this is reversed.
Guilherme Tosi, lead author of the group’s paper in Nature Communications and co-designer of the new qubit, explains. “To operate this qubit, you need to pull the electron a little bit away from the nucleus, using the electrodes at the top. By doing so, you also create an electric dipole.” This allows the electrons to interact from a good fraction of a micron apart, a larger (though still quite tiny!) distance.
Let’s Hope Theory Will Become Practice
Tosi’s co-designer, Andrea Morello, notes that this is only theoretical so far; such a qubit has yet to be built. Nevertheless, he says that this could be the biggest breakthrough since Bruce Kane came up with the architecture of the qubit back in 1998.
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