Monday, October 15, 2007

2 giant steps in advancement of quantum computing

Yale scientists make 2 giant steps in advancement of quantum computing

Caption: Robert J. Schoelkopf. Credit: M. Marsland Usage Restrictions: Must give credit.New Haven, Conn. — Two major steps toward putting quantum computers into real practice — sending a photon signal on demand from a qubit onto wires and transmitting the signal to a second, distant qubit — have been brought about by a team of scientists at Yale. The accomplishments are reported in sequential issues of Nature on September 20 and September 27, on which it is highlighted as the cover along with complementary work from a group at the National Institute of Standards and Technologies.
Over the past several years, the research team of Professors Robert Schoelkopf in applied physics and Steven Girvin in physics has explored the use of solid-state devices resembling microchips as the basic building blocks in the design of a quantum computer. Now, for the first time, they report that superconducting qubits, or artificial atoms, have been able to communicate information not only to their nearest neighbor, but also to a distant qubit on the chip.
This research now moves quantum computing from “having information” to “communicating information.” In the past information had only been transferred directly from qubit to qubit in a superconducting system. Schoelkopf and Girvin’s team has engineered a superconducting communication ‘bus’ to store and transfer information between distant quantum bits, or qubits, on a chip. This work, according to Schoelkopf, is the first step to making the fundamentals of quantum computing useful.
The first breakthrough reported is the ability to produce on demand — and control — single, discrete microwave photons as the carriers of encoded quantum information. While microwave energy is used in cell phones and ovens, their sources do not produce just one photon. This new system creates a certainty of producing individual photons.

“It is not very difficult to generate signals with one photon on average, but, it is quite difficult to generate exactly one photon each time. To encode quantum information on photons, you want there to be exactly one,” according to postdoctoral associates Andrew Houck and David Schuster who are lead co-authors on the first paper.
Caption: Qubits, the building blocks of a future quantum computer, become useful when quantum communication between them are established. In the Yale experiment, this job is done by photons in a cavity on a microchip. This way, quantum information is successfully shuttled back and forth between two superconducting qubits. Credit: Robert J. Schoelkopf. Usage Restrictions: Must give credit.“We are reporting the first such source for producing discrete microwave photons, and the first source to generate and guide photons entirely within an electrical circuit,” said Schoelkopf.
In order to successfully perform these experiments, the researchers had to control electrical signals corresponding to one single photon. In comparison, a cell phone emits about 1023 (100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) photons per second. Further, the extremely low energy of microwave photons mandates the use of highly sensitive detectors and experiment temperatures just above absolute zero.

“In this work we demonstrate only the first half of quantum communication on a chip — quantum information efficiently transferred from a stationary quantum bit to a photon or ‘flying qubit,’” says Schoelkopf. “However, for on-chip quantum communication to become a reality, we need to be able to transfer information from the photon back to a qubit.”

This is exactly what the researchers go on to report in the second breakthrough. Postdoctoral associate Johannes Majer and graduate student Jerry Chow, lead co-authors of the second paper, added a second qubit and used the photon to transfer a quantum state from one qubit to another. This was possible because the microwave photon could be guided on wires — similarly to the way fiber optics can guide visible light — and carried directly to the target qubit. “A novel feature of this experiment is that the photon used is only virtual,” said Majer and Chow, “winking into existence for only the briefest instant before disappearing.”

To allow the crucial communication between the many elements of a conventional computer, engineers wire them all together to form a data “bus,” which is a key element of any computing scheme. Together the new Yale research constitutes the first demonstration of a “quantum bus” for a solid-state electronic system. This approach can in principle be extended to multiple qubits, and to connecting the parts of a future, more complex quantum computer.

However, Schoelkopf likened the current stage of development of quantum computing to conventional computing in the 1950’s, when individual transistors were first being built. Standard computer microprocessors are now made up of a billion transistors, but first it took decades for physicists and engineers to develop integrated circuits with transistors that could be mass produced. ###

Schoelkopf and Girvin are members of the newly formed Yale Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering (YINQE), a broad interdisciplinary activity among faculty and students from across the university. Further information and FAQs about qubits and quantum computing are available online at http://www.eng.yale.edu/rslab/projects/cQED.html

Other Yale authors involved in the research are J.M. Gambetta, J.A. Schreier, J. Koch, B.R. Johnson, L. Frunzio, A. Wallraff, A. Blais and Michel Devoret. Funding for the research was from the National Security Agency under the Army Research Office, the National Science Foundation and Yale University.

Citation: Nature 449, 328-331 (20 September 2007) doi:10.1038/nature06126
& Nature 499, 443-447 (27 September 2007) doi:10.1038/nature06184

Contact: Janet Rettig Emanuel. janet.emanuel@yale.edu, 203-432-2157 Yale University

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1 comment:

Fausto Intilla (fisico teorico) said...

Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071008103647.htm

Scientists at Florida State University's National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and the university's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry have introduced a new material that could be to computers of the future what silicon is to the computers of today.
The material -- a compound made from the elements potassium, niobium and oxygen, along with chromium ions -- could provide a technological breakthrough that leads to the development of new quantum computing technologies. Quantum computers would harness the power of atoms and molecules to perform memory and processing tasks on a scale far beyond those of current computers.
"The field of quantum information technology is in its infancy, and our work is another step forward in this fascinating field," said Saritha Nellutla, a postdoctoral associate at the magnet lab and lead author of the paper published in Physical Review Letters.
Semiconductor technology is close to reaching its performance limit. Over the years, processors have shrunk to their current size, with the components of a computer chip more than 1,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair. At those very small scales, quantum effects -- behaviors in matter that occur at the atomic and subatomic levels -- can start playing a role. By exploiting those behaviors, scientists hope to take computing to the next level.
In current computers, the basic unit of information is the "bit," which can have a value of 0 or 1. In so-called quantum computers, which currently exist only in theory, the basic unit is the "qubit" (short for quantum bit). A qubit can have not only a value of 0 or 1, but also all kinds of combinations of 0 and 1 -- including 0 and 1 at the same time -- meaning quantum computers could perform certain kinds of calculations much more effectively than current ones.
How scientists realize the promise of the theoretical qubit is not clear. Various designs and paths have been proposed, and one very promising idea is to use tiny magnetic fields, called "spins." Spins are associated with electrons and various atomic nuclei.
Magnet lab scientists used high magnetic fields and microwave radiation to "operate" on the spins in the new material they developed to get an indication of how long the spin could be controlled. Based on their experiments, the material could enable 500 operations in 10 microseconds before losing its ability to retain information, making it a good candidate for a qubit.
Putting this spin to work would usher in a technological revolution, because the spin state of an electron, in addition to its charge, could be used to carry, manipulate and store information.
"This material is very promising," said Naresh Dalal, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at FSU and one of the paper's authors. "But additional synthetic and magnetic characterization work is needed before it could be made suitable for use in a device."
Dalal also serves as an adviser to FSU chemistry graduate student Mekhala Pati, who created the material.
Note: This story has been adapted from material provided by Florida State University.

Fausto Intilla
http://www.oloscience.com

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