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Quantum move toward next generation computing
Date:5/11/2010

This release is available in French.

Physicists at McGill University have developed a system for measuring the energy involved in adding electrons to semi-conductor nanocrystals, also known as quantum dots a technology that may revolutionize computing and other areas of science. Dr. Peter Grtter, McGill's Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Education, Faculty of Science, explains that his research team has developed a cantilever force sensor that enables individual electrons to be removed and added to a quantum dot and the energy involved in the operation to be measured.

Being able to measure the energy at such infinitesimal levels is an important step in being able to develop an eventual replacement for the silicon chip in computers the next generation of computing. Computers currently work with processors that contain transistors that are either in an on or off position conductors and semi-conductors while quantum computing would allow processors to work with multiple states, vastly increasing their speed while reducing their size even more.

Although popularly used to connote something very large, the word "quantum" itself actually means the smallest amount by which certain physical quantities can change. Knowledge of these energy levels enables scientists to understand and predict the electronic properties of the nanoscale systems they are developing.

"We are determining optical and electronic transport properties," Grtter said. "This is essential for the development of components that might replace silicon chips in current computers."

The electronic principles of nanosystems also determine their chemical properties, so the team's research is relevant to making chemical processes "greener" and more energy efficient. For example, this technology could be applied to lighting systems, by using nanoparticles to improving their energy efficiency. "We expect this method to have ma
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Contact: William Raillant-Clark
william.raillant-clark@mcgill.ca
514-398-2189
McGill University
Source:Eurekalert  

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