IBM touts quantum computing breakthrough

English: Qubits are made up of controlled part...
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Engineers can now begin work on creating a quantum computer

Scientists at IBM Research today said they have achieved a major advance in quantum computing that will allow engineers to begin work on creating a full-scale quantum computer.

The breakthrough allowed scientists to reduce data error rates in elementary computations while maintaining the integrity of quantum mechanical properties in quantum bits of data, known as qubits.

The creation of a quantum computer would mean data processing power would be exponentially increased over what is possible with today’s conventional CPUs, according to Mark Ketchen, the manager of physics of information at the IBM’s TJ Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY.

A qubit, like today’s conventional bit, can have two possible values: a 0 or a 1. The difference is that a bit must be a 0 or 1, and a qubit can be a 0, 1, or a superposition of both.

“Suppose you take 2 qubits. You can be in 00, 01, 10, and 11 at the same time. For 3 qubits you can be in 8 states at the same time (000, 001, 111, etc.). For each qubit you double the number of states you can be in at the same time. This is part of the reason why a quantum computer could be much more powerful,” Ketchen said.

While a quantum computer is still a long way from being a reality – probably 10 to 15 years — advances in reducing error rates and retaining the integrity of quantum mechanical properties in qubits opens the door to experimentation with new microfabrication techniques, IBM said.

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“We’re finally to the point where devices are getting good enough where data checking and error correcting is possible. As you cross this threshold, there’s a lot of excitement growing,” Ketchen said.

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