Scientists Create First Electronic Quantum Processor

Yale University (06/28/09) Muzzin, Suzanne Taylor

Yale University researchers have led a research effort to develop the first rudimentary solid-state quantum processor, a major step toward the creation of a quantum computer.  The researchers used a two-qubit superconducting chip to successfully run simple algorithms, including a search, marking the first demonstration of quantum information processing with a solid-state device.  "Our processor can perform only a few very simple quantum tasks, which have been demonstrated before with single nuclei, atoms, and photons," says Yale professor Robert Schoelkopf.  "But this is the first time they've been possible in an all-electronic device that looks and feels much more like a regular microprocessor."  Yale postdoctoral associate Leonardo DiCarlo, the lead author of a paper on the discovery, says the key that made the two-qubit processor possible was getting the qubits to rapidly switch between the on and off states so they exchanged information quickly but only when the researchers wanted them to do so.  This has not been possible using solid-state qubits because scientists could not get the qubits to maintain a specific quantum state long enough.  The first qubits created about a decade ago were able to maintain specific quantum states for about a nanosecond, but the new qubits can maintain theirs for a microsecond, a thousand times longer.  The researchers are now working to increase the amount of time the qubits maintain their quantum states so they can run more complicated algorithms.  Schoelkopf says processing power increases exponentially with each qubit added, so the potential for advanced quantum computing is huge.  However, he says it will still be a while before quantum computers can be used to solve complex problems.

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