The smallest transistor ever built — probably the smallest that can ever be built — uses a single phosphorus atom, in a breakthrough that could be one more step on the path toward functional quantum computers. Single atoms have served as transistors in other studies, but this is the first time researchers were able to engineer its location and apply a voltage in a controlled fashion.
When quantum computers eventually reach larger scales, they’ll probably remain pretty precious resources, locked away in research institutions just like our classical supercomputers. So anyone who wants to perform quantum calculations will likely have to do it in the cloud, remotely accessing a quantum server somewhere else.
Quantum entanglement, the spooky action at a distance that promises to be so useful for things like high-powered computing and security, is generally considered a function of the tiny world. It’s easy — OK, not easy, but relatively practical nowadays — to take two particles or two microscopic things and intertwine their fates. Now for the first time, scientists have accomplished quantum entanglement on the macro scale, entangling two millimeter-sized diamonds.
Researchers on two continents are reporting two big breakthroughs in quantum computing today — a quantum system built on the familiar von Neumann processor-memory architecture, and a working digital quantum simulator built on a quantum-computer platform. Although these developments are still constrained to the lab, they’re yet another sign that a quantum leap in computing may be just around the corner.
Physicists have stored information for nearly two minutes inside the magnetic spins of atomic nuclei, producing the longest-lasting spintronic device yet and what could be the world’s tiniest computer memory.
There’s just one problem: the computer operates at -454 F (about 3.2 degrees K) and requires a magnetic field roughly 200,000 times more powerful than Earth’s.
IBM is breathing new life into a quantum computing research division at its Thomas J. Watson Research Center, reports New York Times. The computer giant has hired alumni from promising quantum computing programs at Yale and the University of California-Santa Barbara, both of which made quantum leaps in the past year using standard superconducting material.
Two atomic-scale studies announced in the past week could have major implications for the future of computing and information storage. Last Friday, IBM researchers in Zurich announced they had measured how long a single atom can store information. And Monday, Kiwi researchers announced they had trapped a single atom inside a tractor beam and taken its picture.
A group of scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology recently came a step closer to figuring out where the boundary lies between the quantum and classical physical worlds, and their discovery has big implications for the future of quantum computers— which would have much faster and more powerful processors than our computers do today.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.