Researchers have made a breakthrough in the advancement of quantum technology that has the potential to leave today’s supercomputers in the dust, opening the door to advances in fields including medicine, chemistry, cybersecurity and more. not reached.
In a study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, researchers from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia said they had found a way to make quantum computing processors on silicon chips.
Chief investigator Stephanie Simmons said they illuminated small imperfections in the silicon chips with severe rays of light. Defects in silicon chips act as information carriers, he said. While the remaining chip transmits light, the small defect shows up in it and becomes a messenger, he said.
There are many natural imperfections in silicon. Some of these imperfections can function as quantum bits, or qubits. Scientists call such types of imperfections qubits. Past research has shown that silicon can make some of the strongest and longest-lasting qubits in the industry.
“These results immediately open up opportunities to build silicon-integrated, telecommunications-band quantum information networks,” the study said.
Simmons, who is the university’s Canadian Research Chair on silicon quantum technologies, said the main challenge in quantum computing is to send information to and from qubits.
“People have been working with spin qubits, or defects, in silicon in the past,” Simmons said. “And people have been working on photon qubits in silicon in the past.
Lead author Daniel Higginbottom calls the collapse “promising immediately” because the researchers achieved what was considered impossible by combining two known but identical fields.
Silicon defects were widely studied from the 1970s to the ’90s as quantum physics was researched for decades, said Higginbottom, who is a post-doctoral fellow in the university’s physics department.
Old computer technology points the way to the future of #QuantumComputing. #SimonFraserUniversity
“For the longest time people haven’t seen any potential for optical technology with silicon defects. But we really pioneered to revisit it and found something with applications in the technology. in quantum which is definitely unique. “
Despite being in an embryonic stage, Simmons said quantum computing is the rock ‘n’ roll future of computers that can solve anything from simple algebraic problems to complex pharmaceutical equations or formula that unlocks the deep mysteries of space.
“We may be limited in our imaginations at this stage. What is really going to happen is far from our predictive capabilities as humans.”
The advantage of using silicon chips is that they are widely available, understood and have a giant manufacturing base, he said.
“We can really make it work and we need to be able to move faster and hopefully bring that capability faster.”
Some physicists predict that quantum computers will become mainstream in about two decades, though Simmons said he thinks it will be much earlier.
In the 1950s, people thought the technology behind transistors was commonly used for hearing aids, he said. No one predicted that the physics behind a transistor could be used on Facebook or Google, he added.
“So, we have to look at how quantum technology has played out for decades in terms of exactly what applications are available to the public,” he said. “But there’s a lot because people are creative, and it’s basically very powerful tools that we’re opening up.”
This report in The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2022.