D-Wave says its chips use quantum mechanics to solve gargantuan problems.
What’s the News: Quantum computing is so complex an idea that even experts have a hard time telling whether a computer is actually “quantum.” But D-Wave Systems, a startup that’s made news and drawn skepticism over the last four years for claiming to have developed a quantum computer, has just made their first sale, to the defense contractor Lockheed Martin. And recent research shows that despite the suspicions D-Wave has endured, there may be at least something to their claim.
What’s the News: Physicists have worked out a new method of storing information in the quantum states of atoms in diamond crystals. The scientists linked the spin of individual nitrogen atoms in the diamond—impurities at the jewelry counter, but boons in the physics lab—to the spin of nearby electrons. They could form a quantum link between the spin of the nitrogen atom and the spin of a nearby electron, letting the electron store information more stably than if it were spinning on its own.
How the Heck:
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Not so Fast:
Reference: “Quantum control and nanoscale placement of single spins in diamond.” David D. Awschalom, invited talk, American Physical Society March Meeting 2011
Image: Flickr / Swamibu
In life, most people try to avoid entanglement, be it with unsavory characters or alarmingly large balls of twine. In the quantum world, entanglement is a necessary step for the super-fast quantum computers of the future.
According to a study published by Nature today, physicists have successfully entangled 10 billion quantum bits, otherwise known qubits. But the most significant part of the research is where the entanglement happened–in silicon–because, given that most of modern-day computing is forged in the smithy of silicon technology, this means that researchers may have an easier time incorporating quantum computers into our current gadgets.
Quantum entanglement occurs when the quantum state of one particle is linked to the quantum state of another particle, so that you can’t measure one particle without also influencing the other. With this particular study, led by John Morton at the University of Oxford, UK, the researchers aligned the spins of electrons and phosphorus nuclei–that is, the particles were entangled.