Crucial hurdle overcome for quantum computing


Our team at UNSW has just cleared a major
hurdle in making quantum computers a reality. We’ve just demonstrated the first ever calculation
in a silicon quantum computing device – and we’ve done this by making a quantum logic gate using industrial manufacturing technologies. Until now it hasn’t been possible to make
in silicon two quantum bits – which are the basic building blocks of a quantum computer – and let them interact in order to create a quantum logic gate. But we’ve now done this using the same technologies
used to make existing silicon chips – just like we carry around every day in our mobile phones or tablet. Those silicon chips have over a billion transistors
that do the information processing for you and they work by controlling tiny currents
of electrons. We’ve reconfigured those transistors and
reduced them to the level of holding just one electron to create a quantum bit – or
qubit. We store the binary code of a 0 or a 1 on
the ‘spin’ of the electron – which is like a tiny compass needle. So you can think of the North of the globe as being the 0 and the South of the globe as being the 1. We’ve built two of these qubits right next
to each other – and used them to perform the first quantum calculations between two quantum bits in silicon. We use microwave fields and voltage signals
to control and to make the qubits interact to realise the 2-qubit gate, so that at the
end – the state of the right qubit depends on the state of its neighbour. As well as demonstrating the first quantum
logic gate in silicon, we’ve also designed and patented a way to scale this technology
to millions of qubits using standard industrial manufacturing techniques to build the world’s first quantum processor chip. We’re now working to identify the right
industry partners to work with to make quantum computing a reality. Our results mean that all the physical building
blocks for a silicon quantum computer have now been successfully constructed. Engineers can now begin the task of designing
and building a functional quantum computer. And that has major implications for the finance,
security and healthcare sectors.

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