computer keyboard
IN PHOTO. A man types on a computer keyboard in this Feb. 28, 2013 illustration file picture Reuters/ Kacper Pempel

The final impediment to the development of silicon quantum computing technology has been overcome by a team of scientists at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) led by Professor Andrew Dzurak. This huge leap in developing quantum computer chips enables quantum computing technology to be embedded into the silicon computer chips that power electronic devices such as laptops and smartphones.

The breakthrough will result in incredibly rapid multiple calculations compared to standard computing, and could revolutionise the digital world.

“What we have is a game changer,” said Professor Dzurak, director of the Australian National Fabrication Facility at UNSW.

“Because we essentially use the same device technology as existing computer chips, we believe it will be much easier to manufacture a full-scale processor chip when compared to other leading designs, which rely on more exotic technologies,” he noted.

Traditional computers render data as binary bits. They store and compute data as strings of 0s or 1s. A quantum bit or qubit can exist in both states simultaneously in a condition called superposition. A qubit is capable of simultaneous multiple computations.

Professor Dzurak confirmed the team has demonstrated the central building block of a quantum computer, a two-qubit logic gate, in a research paper published in Nature. This breakthrough could lead to the development of the world’s first quantum processor chip and super-powerful silicon computers.

UNSW researchers have patented the new design that uses affordable silicon found in regular computer, mobile and tablet chips. The team also “paved a way to scale this technology to millions of qubits using standard industrial manufacturing techniques.”

Professor Dzurak said earlier attempts sought to demonstrate quantum logic gates using complicated materials like superconducting systems. He’s optimistic large data centres could commercially use a prototype quantum computing chip in the next five years, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Quantum computing could bring huge economic and social change to Australia.

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