When we build computers with bits and transistors made of individual atoms, their behavior is described by quantum physics, and it is very different from that of our usual classical world.
In a classical digital computer data is stored as binary bits, either 0 or 1. In a quantum computer, built from atoms we have quantum bits, or qubits, that can be any combination of 0 and 1 at the same time.
This sounds crazy, but it is a fundamental feature of the quantum world which lies at the heart of the ability of a quantum computer to process data millions of times faster than any conceivable classical computer.
Researchers around the world are currently in a race to build a practical quantum computer. Governments as well as companies large and small, including ColdQuanta here in Madison, are investing billions of dollars in this new technology.
We are now on the verge of quantum machines surpassing classical computers for very specialized tasks, and there is strong hope that real-world problems will be solved within a decade.
At UW-Madison, we are pioneering the science and technology for future quantum computers.
In my research group we are building a computer with a few hundred individual atoms trapped in a pattern of light, much like eggs in a carton. We use laser beams to control the atoms, prepare combinations of 0 and 1, and perform calculations.
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