In the race to build the first functional quantum computer, Australian researchers at the University of NSW find coding possible in silicon
By Melissa Davey
Australian researchers have demonstrated that a quantum version of computer code can be written on a silicon microchip with the highest level of accuracy ever recorded.
A quantum computer uses atoms rather than transistors as its processing unit, allowing it to conduct multiple complex calculations at once and at high speed. In the race to build the first functional quantum computer scientists around the world have been trying to write quantum code in a range of materials such as caesium, aluminium, niobium titanium nitride and diamond.
But researchers at the University of NSW have long been basing their research around silicon, because silicon is the building block of all modern electronic devices, which would make quantum code in a silicon microchip easier, more cost-effective and highly scalable.
For the first time they managed to entangle a pair of quantum bits – units of quantum information also known as qubits – in silicon. Qubits allow computers to access code vastly richer than the digital codes used in normal computers which gives quantum computers their superior power.
By “entangling” the two qubits, in this case an electron and the nucleus of a single phosphorus atom, the researchers showed that the particles remained connected even when separated so that actions performed on one still affected the other.
“Qubits are physical objects that have two typical states, so imagine a spin that can point north or south, or a circuit where current can flow clockwise and counterclockwise, all binary possibilities,” Professor Andrea Morello, who led the research, said.
“But if you entangle the two of them together, you get a superposition of the different combinations of binary choice, so a spin can now point both north and south, and the current can flow clockwise and counter clockwise. Two binary things are occurring at the same time.”
This entanglement meant a quantum computing language or code vastly richer than standard digital codes used in normal computers could be accessed, with these special codes giving quantum computers their superior power, he said…Continue Reading →