These sorts of computations, though simple, have not been possible using solid-state qubits until now in part because scientists could not get the qubits to last long enough. While the first qubits of a decade ago were able to maintain specific quantum states for about a nanosecond, Schoelkopf and his team are now able to maintain theirs for a microseconda thousand times longer, which is enough to run the simple algorithms. To perform their operations, the qubits communicate with one another using a "quantum bus"photons that transmit information through wires connecting the qubitspreviously developed by the Yale group.
The key that made the two-qubit processor possible was getting the qubits to switch "on" and "off" abruptly, so that they exchanged information quickly and only when the researchers wanted them to, said Leonardo DiCarlo, a postdoctoral associate in applied physics at Yale's School of Engineering & Applied Science and lead author of the paper.
Next, the team will work to increase the amount of time the qubits maintain their quantum states so they can run more complex algorithms. They will also work to connect more qubits to the quantum bus. The processing power increases exponentially with each qubit added, Schoelkopf said, so the potential for more advanced quantum computing is enormous. But he cautions it will still be some time before quantum computers are being used to solve complex problems.
"We're still far away from building a practical quantum computer, but this is a major step forward."
|Contact: Suzanne Taylor Muzzin|