Australian researchers make quantum computing breakthrough, paving way for world-first chip

via UNSW
via UNSW

Australian scientists have discovered a way to put quantum computing technology into silicon computer chips, paving the way for the first commercial manufacture of the holy grail in superfast computing.

For decades scientists have been trying to turn quantum computing — which allows for multiple calculations to happen at once, making it immeasurably faster than standard computing — into a practical reality rather than a moonshot theory. Until now, they have largely relied on “exotic” materials to construct quantum computers, making them unsuitable for commercial production.

But researchers at the University of New South Wales have patented a new design, published in the scientific journal Nature on Tuesday, created specifically with computer industry manufacturing standards in mind and using affordable silicon, which is found in regular computer chips like those we use every day in smartphones or tablets.

“Our team at UNSW has just cleared a major hurdle to making quantum computing a reality,” the director of the university’s Australian National Fabrication Facility, Andrew Dzurak, the project’s leader, said.

“As well as demonstrating the first quantum logic gate in silicon, we’ve also designed and patented a way to scale this technology to millions of qubits using standard industrial manufacturing techniques to build the world’s first quantum processor chip.”

While regular computing reads data as binary bits (represented as either a 0 or a 1), a quantum bit (“qubit”) can exist in both states at once, allowing multiple computations to happen simultaneously. A working quantum computer could take days to answer questions that a regular one might take millions of years to resolve.

UNSW’s patented design modifies the transistors found in regular computer chips to store the binary code of 0 or 1 on the “spin” of a single electron, which works like a tiny compass needle. It builds on previous research that produced the first quantum computing transistor of this type.

However, this is the first time scientists have succeeded in getting two silicon-based transistors to talk to each other to perform calculations through what’s known as a “quantum logic gate”.

Read more: Australian researchers make quantum computing breakthrough, paving way for world-first chip



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