A team of scientists led by Yale University has announced the world’s first solid-state quantum computer processor.
The team has built a two-qubit (quantum bits) device that it said is capable of processing simple algorithms such as searches. But whereas most research into quantum processors has centred on devices at an atomic scale, the Yale team has built their chip to the same scale as regular microprocessors.
"Our processor can perform only a few very simple quantum tasks, which have been demonstrated before with single nuclei, atoms and photons," said Robert Schoelkopf, the William A Norton Professor of Applied Physics & Physics at Yale.
"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."
Each qubit is made up of a billion aluminum atoms, but because it fluctuates on a quantum level it acts like a single atom that can occupy two different energy states. This allows for much faster processing of data.
The team also claims to have maintained quantum calculation for much longer periods than previously possible. The first qubits could only maintain themselves in a quantum state for around a nanosecond but this device stayed active for a microsecond – a thousand times longer – the scientists said.
While still a short length of time it was long enough to run simple programs, and the team is now working on developing a chip that will be able to stay in a quantum state for much longer.
They are also working on extending the number of qubits that can be linked together to increase the power of the chip. Other researchers have connected up to seven qubits using different techniques.
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