UK scientists ‘make atoms dance’ for quantum computing research

Quantum computing
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26 July 2017 | 0

Researchers at the University of Surrey have thrown their hats into the quantum computing ring by developed a way to make phosphorous atoms ‘dance’.

In their latest study – published in Nature Communications – scientists were successful in manipulating atoms of phosphorous with silicon crystals, controlling their shape and size and ‘making them dance’.

Up until now, the majority of quantum computers have been made using materials that are not mass-produced, and often using atoms suspended in a vacuum.

But this team is working with technology where single phosphorous atoms are trapped inside crystals of silicon, which are elements that existing computer chips are made from.

They believe that positioning these atoms in a fixed grid structure that could pave the way for reliable quantum computers. The strategy, called ‘surface code’ quantum computing involves placing many atoms in a fixed grid and using the ‘dance motion’ of the atoms to control how they interact.

Dr Steve Chick, who led the research with professor of physics Ben Murdin, said the researchers intend to take advantage of the dancing atoms to make ‘gates’ to control when and how the quantum computer works.

“Our advanced control will help make our quantum computers more reliable even if they occasionally make mistakes. Classical computers already use ways of recovering from mistakes, but in quantum computers, it’s a much more difficult problem,” he said.

“We also hope that using materials which are already popular in computing will allow quantum computers and current computers to be compatible with each other.”

IDG News Service

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