A team led by engineers and physicists at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia, have developed one of the key building blocks needed to make a quantum computer using silicon: a "single electron reader". Their work was published today in Nature.
Quantum computers promise exponential increases in processing speed over today's computers through their use of the "spin", or magnetic orientation, of individual electrons to represent data in their calculations.
In order to employ electron spin, the quantum computer needs both a way of changing the spin state (write) and of measuring that change (read) to form a qubit the equivalent of the bits in a conventional computer.
In creating the single electron reader, a team of engineers and physicists led by Dr Andrea Morello and Professor Andrew Dzurak, of the School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications at UNSW, has for the first time made possible the measurement of the spin of one electron in silicon in a single shot experiment. The team also includes researchers from the University of Melbourne and Aalto University in Finland.
"Our device detects the spin state of a single electron in a single phosphorus atom implanted in a block of silicon. The spin state of the electron controls the flow of electrons in a nearby circuit," said Dr Morello, the lead author of the paper, Single-shot readout of an electron spin in silicon.
"Until this experiment, no-one had actually measured the spin of a single electron in silicon in a single-shot experiment."
By using siliconthe foundation material of conventional computersrather than light or the esoteric materials and approaches being pursued by other researchers, the device opens the way to constructing a simpler quantum computer, scalable and amenable to mass-production.
The team has built on a body of research that has put Australia at forefront of the race to construct a wo
|Contact: Peter Trute|
University of New South Wales