University of Michigan researchers have developed the first scalable quantum computer chip using principally the same semiconductor manufacturing process as integrated semiconductor chips. The researchers have been able to trap and control a single atom within a processor chip.
Quantum computers can use individual atoms to store binary quantum bits (qubits) of data (0 or 1), much like traditional computer microprocessors; however, the rules of quantum physics apply at the atomic level, one of the rules being that a qubit may hold multiple states simultaneously and multiple qubits may be linked through quantum entanglement, leading to increases in some types of processing speed.
A quantum computer requires the qubit to be trapped, prevented from normal interaction with the outside world. The University of Michigan project allows for multiple trapped qubits to be integrated, scaled to a useful level. Initial reviews indicate that the university’s project may be scaled to hundreds of thousands of integrated qubits.
Should the University of Michigan’s project develop into a scalable quantum computer chip, it would be a watershed in the development of quantum computer, opening the door to commercial applications for computing at the atomic level.
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