updated 06:45 pm EDT, Thu April 26, 2012
Quantum computer breakthrough claimed
A crystal made from 300 atoms is claimed to act like a highly powerful quantum computer. University of Sydney researcher Dr Michael Biercuk, co-author of the paper published in Nature, suggests the "crystal simulator" technology is theoretically capable of matching the performance of a standard computer "the size of the known universe."
Quantum computing potentially allows for millions of computations at the same time, far more than normal processors can handle, as quantum particles can be in two states at once and solve double the equations in the same timeframe. The number of states, and therefore the number of simultaneous computations, increases exponentially as the system adds additional particles.
Although the central element of the newly designed system is the width of a human hair, the massive amount of support infrastructure is said to take up the space of an entire room. The researchers admit that such technology is still far away from making it to the consumer market.
Recent progress in the field includes IBM scientists extending the retention of quantum states for up to 100 microseconds, nearing the time required for effective error correction schemes to take place.
"In our case, we are studying the interactions of spins in the field of quantum magnetism - a key problem that underlies new discoveries in materials science for energy, biology, and medicine," said Dr. Biercuk. "For instance, we hope to study the spin interactions predicted by models for high-temperature superconductivity - a physical phenomenon that has yet to be explained, but has the potential to revolutionise power distribution and high-speed transport." [via ABC Science]