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Quantum Computers Not Far Away As Researchers Write First Quantum Code On Silicon Chip

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They've unlocked quantum vocabulary, and that's a major step in bringing quantum computing in from the fringes of computer science.

Researchers from Australia's University of New South Wales have proved quantum logic, using a pair of electrons inside of a silicon chip. The findings were published on Monday, Nov. 16, in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

The quantum code expands the possibilities of standard, binary coding in which data is represented as 1's and 0's. By the standard model, two bits can only represent four code words: 00, 01, 10 and 11. 

With quantum code, code words can be expressed in more variants such as 01 + 00 or 00 - 11 for example.

Quantum logic relies on quantum entanglement, a phenomenon in which two particles remain connected despite distance between them. One particle instantly affects the state of another.

Albert Einstein called quantum entanglement "spooky action at a distance," noted lead researcher Andrea Morello, a professor at the School of Electrical Engineering & Telecommunications at UNSW and program manager in the Center for Quantum Computation & Communication Technology. The effect has become famous for puzzling some of the field's deepest thinkers.

"Einstein was skeptical about entanglement, because it appears to contradict the principles of 'locality', which means that objects cannot be instantly influenced from a distance," said Morello.

The quantum code passed the infamous Bell tests, which were created by John Bell to close off any loopholes in experiments with quantum entanglement. Experiments that fail the Bell test are likely influenced by local variables that could produce what only appears to be spooky actions.

According to Morello, passing the Bell test proves that the operation of a quantum computer is totally under control. He also added that purely-quantum type of code that requires the use of the delicate quantum entanglement between two particles can be accessed.

Because the researchers were able to use electrons as quantum bits on a silicon chips, efforts to build quantum computers just became more achieveable. 

Instead of employing exotic materials to create a computer capable of crunching data in the fraction of the time it takes the world's fastest supercomputers, developers can work with good old fashion silicon to supercharge existing chip schematics with quantum powers. Morello confirmed that what they've accomplished is a real triumph of electrical engineering .

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