University of NSW develop a quantum bit using the nucleus of an atom

From the University of New South Wales (UNSW): engineers have been able to use the nucleus of an atom as the basis for a quantum bit (or qubit) the fundamental unit of quantum computing.

Artist’s impression of a single phosphorus atom, placed in the vicinity of a silicon transistor.

Why is this important?

  • Quantum computing means a potentially massive (like, exponentiallymassive) increase in computing speed and capacity.
  • This UNSW experiment was done in fairly normal conditions, with solid-state devices and normal silicon circuitry. Qubits with similar accuracy in the past have required very specialised conditions: atoms in a vacuum suspended in a magnetic field, for instance.

So the real breakthrough here is the practicality by which they were able to achieve their quantum computing result. It’s one step closer to being able to deliver quantum computing on a practical scale. Remember, the regular computers we’re familiar with used to weigh many tons and fill entire rooms. Quantum computing will likely go through a similar process.

You can read the media release or get even more background info about quantum computing from the UNSW.

Cloud quantum computing could be just as secure

Cloud computing is using (possibly renting) computing power elsewhere via the internet.

Quantum computing is using the seemingly-odd behaviour of quantum mechanics to do computations in parallel, thereby multiplying computing speeds.

Some dudes have written a paper about research they’re doing into whether quantum computers could do calculations in the cloud securely.

That is pretty seriously cool.

Scientists create first electronic quantum processor

From breaking science news site Eurekalert:

A team led by Yale University researchers has created the first rudimentary solid-state quantum processor, taking another step toward the ultimate dream of building a quantum computer.

They also used the two-qubit superconducting chip to successfully run elementary algorithms, such as a simple search, demonstrating quantum information processing with a solid-state device for the first time. Their findings will appear in Nature‘s advanced online publication June 28.

“…This is the first time they’ve been possible in an all-electronic device that looks and feels much more like a regular microprocessor.”

The key that made the two-qubit processor possible was getting the qubits to switch “on” and “off” abruptly, so that they exchanged information quickly and only when the researchers wanted them to.

The article is a good read. Get your head around their example of how quantum computation might be different from the kind of computation we’re used to:

Imagine having four phone numbers, including one for a friend, but not knowing which number belonged to that friend. You would typically have to try two to three numbers before you dialed the right one. A quantum processor, on the other hand, can find the right number in only one try.

Quantum computing: new methods for removing error

From ScienceDaily:

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated a technique for efficiently suppressing errors in quantum computers. The advance could eventually make it much easier to build useful versions of these potentially powerful but highly fragile machines, which theoretically could solve important problems that are intractable using today’s computers.

The new error-suppression method was demonstrated using an array of about 1,000 ultracold beryllium ions (electrically charged atoms) trapped by electric and magnetic fields.

The NIST method is an adaptation of “spin echo” techniques used for decades to suppress errors in nuclear magnetic resonance (the basis of magnetic resonance imaging). In spin echo, evenly spaced control pulses will nearly reverse the buildup of error, as long as fluctuations are slow relative to the time between pulses.

Molecular machines may replace silicon chips for quantum computers

From the BBC recently:

Edinburgh and Manchester University researchers have created a molecular device which could act as a building block for super-fast computers.

Hi! I’m not really here right now. I’m on vacation in Australia. Through the magic of scheduled blogging, I’ve set a little something I find interesting to be posted each day I’m gone.