Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Physicists Find Way To Control Individual Bits In Quantum Computers

Optical lattices use lasers to separate rubidium atoms (red) for use as information "bits" in neutral-atom quantum processors -- prototype devices which designers are trying to develop into full-fledged quantum computers. NIST scientists have managed to isolate and control pairs of the rubidium atoms with polarized light, an advance that may bring quantum computing a step closer to reality. (Credit: NIST)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (July 7, 2009) — Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have overcome a hurdle in quantum computer development, having devised a viable way to manipulate a single "bit" in a quantum processor without disturbing the information stored in its neighbors. The approach, which makes novel use of polarized light to create "effective" magnetic fields, could bring the long-sought computers a step closer to reality.

A great challenge in creating a working quantum computer is maintaining control over the carriers of information, the "switches" in a quantum processor while isolating them from the environment. These quantum bits, or "qubits," have the uncanny ability to exist in both "on" and "off" positions simultaneously, giving quantum computers the power to solve problems conventional computers find intractable – such as breaking complex cryptographic codes.

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