Y. Colombe/NIST
Robots & Machines

A New Method for Making Quantum Computers Has Arrived

Who needs billions of lasers when you can just use voltages?

Dom GaleonDecember 5th 2016

Stabler Qubits

The development of quantum computers is currently a major area of technological research, and most of that research is focused on making the heart of quantum computing — the quantum bit, or qubit — more stable. Now, a team from the University of Sussex might have figured out how to do this and in a way that would make quantum computers practical for use.

In a study published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the researchers detail how they think it’s possible to develop large-scale quantum computers using a simpler method than the one currently in place, which uses individual laser beams projected onto individual ions to create trapped-ions (or charged atoms). Each ion, then, forms a qubit, the unit where data is stored and read in quantum computing, similar to the 1 or 0 bits used in conventional computing.

Credits: University of Sussex
Credits: University of Sussex

This, however, requires billions of quantum bits with billions of lasers aligned to each equivalent ion. Instead of using lasers to align ions, the Sussex team applied voltages to a quantum computer chip to produce the same results with a reportedly low error rate.

“This development is a game changer for quantum computing, making it accessible for industrial and government use,” said lead researcher Winfried Hensinger in a press release. “We will construct a large-scale quantum computer at Sussex making full use of this exciting new technology.”

The Future of Computing

D-Wave has already created quantum computers, and supposedly, Microsoft is moving into the engineering phase of its own quantum computer research and development. But existing quantum computers are hugely expensive and not practical, with almost absurd requirements for operation, so this development out of Sussex is highly welcomed.

Undoubtedly, quantum computers are the future of computing. They can efficiently perform tasks that would take even the most powerful supercomputers of today years to calculate. The processing power inherent in quantum computers make them the perfect tool for solving complex problems in science, medicine, and finance, and they will open up new possibilities for research in these areas and more.

In short, quantum computers will revolutionize society in perhaps the same way — or even more dramatically than — traditional computing did. Of course, it’s one thing to have this model working in a laboratory and another to actually have one that is ready for public use. Nevertheless, we may indeed by getting closer to making one thanks to this new development.

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