The alphabet of data processing could include more elements than the "0" and "1" in future. An international research team has achieved a new kind of bit with single electrons, called quantum bits, or qubits. With them, considerably more than two states can be defined. So far, quantum bits have only existed in relatively large vacuum chambers. The team has now generated them in semiconductors. They have put an effect in practice, which the RUB physicist Prof. Dr. Andreas Wieck had already theoretically predicted 22 years ago. This represents another step along the path to quantum computing. Together with colleagues from Grenoble and Tokyo, Wieck from the Chair of Applied Solid State Physics reports on the results in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
The basic units of today's data processing are the bit states "0" and "1", which differ in their electrical voltage. To encode these states, only the charge of the electrons is crucial. "Electrons also have other properties though" says Wieck, and these are exactly what you need for quantum bits. "The extension from bits to quantum bits can dramatically increase the computational power of computers" says the physicist.
The new bit generation
A quantum bit corresponds to a single electron in a particular state. Together with his colleagues, Wieck used the trajectories of an electron through two closely spaced channels for encoding. In principle, two different states are possible: the electron either moves in the upper channel or in the lower channel which would then only form a binary system again. According to quantum theory, however, a particle can be in several states simultaneously, that is, it can quasi fly through both channels at the same time. These overlapping states can form an extensive alphabet of data processing.
A recipe for qubits
In order to generate quantum bits with different states, the researc
|Contact: Dr. Andreas Wieck|