A New Kind of Quantum Computer

November 7, 2017

A photograph of Google's 1000+ qubit computer chip under development.

Quantum mechanics incorporates some very non-intuitive properties of matter. Quantum superposition, for example, allows an atom to be simultaneously in two different states with its spin axis pointed both up and down, or combinations in between. A computer that uses quantum mechanical manipulation of atoms or particles therefore has many more possible options than a conventional one that works with "zeros" and "ones" and has only two choices, called bits. A quantum computer's memory uses instead what are called quantum bits - qubits - and each qubit can be in a superposition of these two states. As a result, theoretical physicists estimate a quantum computer with only about one hundred of these qubits could in principle exceed the computing power of the powerful current classical computers. Building a quantum computer is therefore one of the main technological goals in modern physics and astrophysics.

Physicist in Prof. Mikhail Lukin's group, with a colleague from the CfA's Institute for Theoretical Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (ITAMP), have proposed a new way to build a quantum computer using just a single atom...

Continue reading "A New Kind of Quantum Computer Friday" on the CfA website, November 3, 2017. https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/su201742.

Also read the research article in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America: Hannes Pichler, Soonwon Choi, Peter Zollerc, and Mikhail D. Lukin, "Universal Photonic Quantum Computation via Time-Delayed Feedback," PNAS 114 (2017) doi: 10.1073/pnas.1711003114.