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The finding, by a team led by Princeton physicist Jason Petta, could eventually allow engineers to build quantum computers consisting of millions of quantum bits, or qubits. So far, quantum researchers have only been able to manipulate small numbers of qubits, not enough for a practical machine.
As IBM points out, a 250-qubit quantum computer would contain more bits that there are particles in the universe.
To make the transfer, Petta's team used a stream of microwave photons to analyze a pair of electrons trapped in a tiny cage called a quantum dot. The "spin state" of the electrons -- information about how they are spinning -- serves as the qubit, a basic unit of information. The microwave stream allows the scientists to read that information.
In an ordinary sense, the distances involved are very small; the entire apparatus operates over a little more than a centimeter. But on the subatomic scale, they are vast. It is like coordinating the motion of a top spinning on the moon with another on the surface of Earth.
Experts believe quantum computing is moving to a stage where it is so far out in front and performing such complex tasks it will be difficult to check if it is working accurately.
"They're not easily checked by a classical computer which opens a whole variety of problems," says Biercuk.
And he adds that there is still plenty of work to be done before quantum computers start appearing on desks in homes and offices.
"The central element is something like a millimetre in diameter, 300 atoms that are suspended in space," says Biercuk.
"But of course everything depends on a huge amount of technical infrastructure around it. There are vacuum chambers and pumps and lasers, and all of that takes up something like a room."
Originally posted by PrplHrt
I am very ignorant when it comes to this subject. Could previous posters dumb down their opinions for the laymen who will read this thread?
Thanks in advance.
Standard computers store information as classical "bits," which can take on a value of either 0 or 1. These bits allow programmers to create the complex instructions that are the basis for modern computing power.
The power of a quantum computer comes from the strange rules of quantum mechanics, which describe the universe of subatomic particles. Quantum mechanics says that an electron can spin in one direction, representing a 1, or in another direction, a 0. But it can also be in something called "superposition" representing all states between 1 and 0. If scientists and engineers can build a working machine that takes advantage of this, they would open up entirely new fields of computing.
"The point of a quantum computer is not that they can do what a normal computer can do but faster; that's not what they are," said Houck. "The quantum computer would allow us to approach problems differently. It would allow us to solve problems that cannot be solved with a normal computer."
Now, quantum computers like this are still very specialized tools. This one, specifically, is a "quantum simulator," which means that it's been designed to simulate quantum systems themselves, something that's practically impossible to do with a traditional computer. So for example, this quantum computer can simulate the spin interactions of quantum magnetic fields, which may ultimately lead to new insights about high temperature superconductivity, a potentially transformative technology. Oh, and there's also something about "engineering totally new forms of quantum matter," and that sounds pretty cool too.
Using a variety of techniques in the IBM labs, scientists have established three new records for reducing errors in elementary computations and retaining the integrity of quantum mechanical properties in quantum bits (qubits) – the basic units that carry information within quantum computing. IBM has chosen to employ superconducting qubits, which use established microfabrication techniques developed for silicon technology, providing the potential to one day scale up to and manufacture thousands or millions of qubits.
Originally posted by tinhattribunal
A picture of IBM’s “3D” superconducting qubit device where a qubit (about 1mm in length) is suspended in the center of the cavity on a small Sapphire chip. The cavity is formed by closing the two halves, and measurements are done by passing microwave signals to the connectors. Despite the apparent large feature size (the cavity is about 1.5 inches wide) for this single qubit demonstration, the team believes it is possible to scale such a system to hundreds or thousands of qubits.
The most basic piece of information that a typical computer understands is a bit. Much like a light that can be switched on or off, a bit can have only one of two values: "1" or "0". For qubits, they can hold a value of “1” or “0” as well as both values at the same time.