Quantum computing is one step closer to reality, as a pair of new developments shatter records for technology that could lead to a whole new generation of super-fast computers.
Computers using current technology utilize bits of information, which have two possible states - 0 (off) and 1 (on). Quantum bits, or qubits, take advantage of the strange laws governing the behavior of subatomic particles, producing a wide range of values between those two states.
Quantum computing could allow the development of computers thousands of times faster than current systems. One of the challenges facing developers of the new processors is the development of qubits with extremely low error rates. University of New South Wales (UNSW) researchers developed new technology, forming qubits with accuracy of up to 99 percent.
"We've now come up with two parallel pathways for building a quantum computer in silicon, each of which shows this super accuracy," Andrea Morello, associate professor at UNSW's School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications, said.
An artificial atom qubit was constructed, based on technology similar to devices in current cell phones and computers. Metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFET) are commonly used in present technology, and this new technology builds on the tested devices.
"It is really amazing that we can make such an accurate qubit using pretty much the same devices as we have in our laptops and phones," Menno Veldhorst, post-doctoral researcher at UNSW, stated in a press release about the record-setting breakthroughs.
A phosphorus atom was used as the center of the new technology, creating a qubit with unparelled accuracy.
"The phosphorus atom contains in fact two qubits: the electron, and the nucleus. With the nucleus in particular, we have achieved accuracy close to 99.99%. That means only one error for every 10,000 quantum operations," Juha Muhonen from the University of New South Wales Australia stated in a press release.
This research also marks the first time a silicon computer building block has obtained over 99 percent accuracy, a major step toward the development of quantum computers. Such super-fast computers could be used to produce more accurate weather predictions, as well as run virtual tests to simulate the effect of new drugs.
A new record was also set for the amount of time a silicon quantum system retains information, known as coherence time - around 35 seconds.
The UNSW teams previously demonstrated single-atom spin qubits for the first time, a development announced in 2012 and 2013.
Development of the record-setting quantum computer technology was detailed in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.