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Engineers Built “Giant Atoms” That Enhance Quantum Computers

__Dan Robitzski__Filed Under: Hard Science
Images via Needpix/Victor Tangermann

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Scientists found a new way to improve the fragile and error-prone qubits that make up a quantum computing circuit — and it’s strange.

Qubits tend to make errors and can rapidly decay as they transmit information. So a team of MIT engineers built artificial, superconducting “giant atoms” by coupling together multiple cubits-worth of regular atoms. These giant atoms are easier to control and far harder to destroy during normal operations. The research, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, suggests that these giant atoms could help bring about quantum computers that are actually practical.

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The problem with traditional qubits, which are the quantum version of the 1s and 0s in a classical computing system, is that they can communicate well with adjacent qubits, but information sent across a lengthier quantum circuit tends to decay.

In contrast, the giant atoms can be tuned to not only improve the fidelity of the information, but they can also be blocked from transmitting until they’re supposed to, which is another problem with existing qubits.

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Ultimately, the MIT engineers hope that their giant atoms lead to a simpler, enhanced form of quantum computers.

“This allows us to experimentally probe a novel regime of physics that is difficult to access with natural atoms,” MIT engineer Bharath Kannan said in a press release. “The effects of the giant atom are extremely clean and easy to observe and understand.”

“The tricks we employed are relatively simple,” he added, “and, as such, one can imagine using this for further applications without a great deal of additional overhead.”

READ MORE: ‘Giant atoms’ enable quantum processing and communication in one [MIT]

More on improving quantum computers: Scientists Are Building a Quantum Teleporter Based on Black Holes