IBM Makes Strides In Quantum Computing Technology
February 29, 2012

IBM Makes Strides In Quantum Computing Technology

IBM revealed on Tuesday that it has achieved a major advance in quantum computing that will allow engineers to begin working on a full-scale quantum computer.

The new breakthrough allows scientists to reduce data error rates in elementary computations while maintaining the integrity of quantum mechanical properties in quantum bits of data.

Mark Ketchen, the manager of physics of information at the IBM's TJ Watson Research Center, said the creation of quantum computers would mean data processing power would be increased over what is possible with today's conventional CPUs.

"Quantum computing has been a Holy Grail for researchers ever since Nobel Prize physicist Richard Feynman in 1981 challenged the scientific community to build computers based on quantum mechanics," Steve Hamm of IBM wrote in a statement.

The company said that the special properties quantum bits of data (qubits) will allow quantum computers to work on millions of computations at once.

"For example, a single 250-qubit state contains more bits of information than there are atoms in the universe," IBM said in a press release.

Matthias Steffen, manager of the IBM Research team, said this level of computing is the new frontier.

“The quantum computing work we are doing shows it is no longer just a brute force physics experiment. It´s time to start creating systems based on this science that will take computing to a new frontier,” Steffen said in a press release.

The company said that potential applications for quantum computing may include searching databases of unstructured information, performing a range of optimization tasks and solving previously unsolvable mathematical problems.

It said that one of the greater challenges for scientists seeking to harness the power of quantum computing is controlling or removing quantum decoherence.  This blockage is the creation of errors in calculations caused by interference from factors like heat, electromagnetic radiation, and materials defects.

Scientists have been experimenting with ways to reduce errors and to lengthen the time periods over which the qubits retain their quantum mechanical properties.

"There are many viable systems that can potentially lead to a functional quantum computer," the company said. "IBM is focusing on using superconducting qubits that will allow a more facile transition to scale up and manufacturing."

The IBM researchers presented their latest results on Tuesday at the annual American Physical Society meeting in Boston, Mass.


Image Caption: A picture of the Silicon chip housing a total of three qubits. The chip is back-mounted on a PC board and connects to I/O coaxial lines via wire bonds (scale: 8mm x 4mm). A larger assembly of such qubits and resonators are envisioned to be used for a scalable architecture.


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