A team of scientists from the University of Chicago discovered a method by which quantum states can be integrated and controlled in everyday electronics. The team’s leading-edge research has resulted in the experimental creation of what they call a “quantum FM radio” to transmit data over long distances. This sounds like a eureka moment for quantum computing.
The team’s work concerns silicon carbide, a natural semiconductor used to make all kinds of electronics, including light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and printed circuit boards. It is also used in rocket because of its ability to withstand high temperatures and in the production of sandpaper – probably because it is rude. What fascinates us is its potential as a control channel of quantum states.
Today’s quantum computers – under the IBM / Google / MIT paradigm – are giant and cumbersome things that will not fit on your desktop at all. They require lasers and subzero temperatures to work. You need a team of physicists in an expensive lab to start. But the work of the University of Chicago team could change all that.
They used a good old-fashioned electricity, something we master well enough, to initiate and direct quantum states in silicon carbide. This means that they did not need sophisticated lasers, a super cold environment or anything that is the size of a central computer to produce quantum results. It was not the result of a single experiment, but it is actually two important breakthroughs.
The first, the ability to control quantum states in silicon carbide, has the potential to solve the problem of “exotic materials” of quantum computing. Silicon carbide is plentiful and relatively easy to work with respect to standard use by physicists – which includes levitating atoms, laser-ready metals and perfectly imperfect diamonds. It’s cool and could fundamentally change the direction of most quantum computing research in 2020 and beyond. But it’s the second breakthrough that could be the most exciting.
According to a press release from the University of Chicago, the team’s method solves the problem of the “noise” of quantum computing. By Chris Anderson, co-author of the article of the team:
Impurities are common to all semiconductor devices and, at the quantum level, these impurities can scramble quantum information by creating a noisy electrical environment. This is an almost universal problem for quantum technologies.
The co-author Alexandre Bourassa added:
In our experiments, we have to use lasers, which unfortunately jostle the electrons around. It’s like a game of musical chairs with electrons; when the light goes out, everything stops, but in a different configuration. The problem is that this random configuration of electrons affects our quantum state. But we found that the application of electric fields removes the electrons from the system and makes it much more stable.
The work is still early, but it has incredible implications for the field of quantum computing. With some adjustments, it seems that this method based on silicon carbide to adjust the quantum states could lead us sooner than many experts to think that the quantum communications network “can not be hacked”. According to the team, this would work with the existing fiber optic network that already transmits 90% of global data.
On the outside, a “quantum FM radio”, which essentially sends data along frequency – modulated waves, could augment or replace existing wireless communication methods and create a whole new class of technology. We think of something like the Star Trek TriCorders, a gadget that records environmental data, processes it instantly, and uses quantum AI to analyze and interpret the results.
For more information, read the research articles from the Chicago team here and here.
H / t: Phys.Org
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