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Quantum Computer Built Using Microwaves

10 October 2013

Scientists have moved a step closer to creating a practical prototype quantum computer using microwaves.

Researchers at the Sussex Ion Quantum Technology Group claim to have devised a way to modify atoms to make them more resilient to external noise, a breakthrough that could be an important stepping stone on the road to quantum computing with microwaves.

Storing and processing huge amounts of data on an atomic scale could make it possible to carry out massive calculations.Small-scale ion trap quantum computers have already been built using lasers to carry out calculations within the "quantum processor." But the number of lasers needed to make a large-scale quantum computer would make this a substantial engineering challenge.

A new generation of quantum computers is now being devised utilizing microwaves, which are easier to use and which should bring the construction of a large-scale ion-trap quantum-information processor much closer.

Researchers need to overcome a major challenge, however. The quantum effects that give a quantum computer its power (such as quantum superposition, where a single object can be at two different places simultaneously) are easily destroyed by any external noise.

The researchers at the Sussex Ion Quantum Technology Group (University of Sussex, United Kingdom) applied a combination of microwaves and radio frequency fields to modify the atoms so that they became more resilient to external noise.The researchers used methods to shield the atoms driving this new generation of computers from the harmful effects of noise.

Their paper is published in the October edition of the journal Physical Review Letters.

Sussex Ion Quantum Technology Group Director Winfried Hensinger said the method effectively enables large-scale operation of a microwave quantum computer. "While large scale quantum computers might be still 10-30 years away, we have now managed to clear another big hurdle," Hensinger said.

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