Advance marks progress toward quantum computer made with artificial atoms
NIST physicist Ray Simmonds holds a protective box containing "artificial atoms" that might be used in quantum computers. Next to him is a cryogenic refrigerator that cools the box to temperatures near absolute zero. Copyright: Geoffrey Wheeler
Two superconducting devices have been coaxed into a special, interdependent state that mimics the unusual interactions sometimes seen in pairs of atoms, according to a team of physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). The experiments, performed at the NIST laboratory in Boulder, Colo., are an important step toward the possible use of "artificial atoms" made with superconducting materials for storing and processing data in an ultra-powerful quantum computer of the future.
The work, reported in the Feb. 25 issue of the journal Science*, demonstrates that it is possible to measure the quantum properties of two interconnected artificial atoms at virtually the same time. Until now, superconducting qubits--quantum counterparts of the 1s and 0s used in todays computers--have been measured one at a time to avoid unwanted effects on neighboring qubits. The advance shows that the properties of artificial atoms can be coordinated in a way that is consistent with a quantum phenomenon called "entanglement" observed in real atoms. Entanglement is the "quantum magic" allowing the construction of logic gates in a quantum computer, a means of ensuring that the value of one qubit can be determined by the value of another in a predictable way.
Laura Ost | EurekAlert!
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