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Scientists One Step Closer To Quantum Computers

January 19, 2011

Scientists have moved a step closer to creating quantum computers by generating 10 billion bits of quantum entanglement in silicon for the first time.

According to a team from Britain, Japan, Canada and Germany, whose study was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, the achievement in silicon has important implications for integration with existing technology.

“Creating 10 billion entangled pairs in silicon with high fidelity is an important step forward for us,” John Morton of Britain’s Oxford University, who led the team, told Reuters.

“We now need to deal with the challenge of coupling these pairs together to build a scalable quantum computer in silicon.”

Scientists believe that super-fast quantum computers will be able to test many possible solutions to a problem at once.

Conventional computers based on binary “switches” can only do one thing at a time.

Quantum entanglement will allow particles to be connected in such a way that changing the state of one instantly affects the other, even when they are miles apart.

Albert Einstein once famously described it as “spooky action at a distance.”

Other areas of quantum-related research include ultra-precise measurement and improved imaging.

The researchers used high magnetic fields and low temperatures to produce entanglement between the electron and the nucleus of an atom of phosphorous embedded in a silicon crystal.

They said that the procedure was applied in parallel to a vast number of phosphorous atoms.

The electron and the nucleus behave as a tiny magnet, each of which can represent a bit of quantum information.

When controlled in the right way, these spins can interact with each other.

“The key to generating entanglement was to first align all the spins by using high magnetic fields and low temperatures,” Oxford’s Stephanie Simmons, who also worked on the team, told Reuters.

“Once this has been achieved, the spins can be made to interact with each other using carefully timed microwave and radiofrequency pulses in order to create the entanglement, and then prove that it has been made.”

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