A Quantum Boost for a Different Kind of Computer

December 4th, 2017

Disclosure: I have invested in technology related to quantum computing.

Via: MIT Technology Review:

In two papers published today in the journal Nature, a team at MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and another from the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards in Washington D.C., reveal that they have built specialized types of quantum calculator, each of which uses more than 50 qubits—well beyond what had been demonstrated previously. In both cases, the researchers created quantum simulators, machines capable of using analog calculations to model how quantum particles interact.

The two systems both use atoms but work in different ways. The MIT-Harvard system handles 51 qubits by using lasers to trap neutral atoms in an excited state. The Maryland-NIST machine, which handles 53 qubits, traps ytterbium ions in place using gold-coated electrodes. Together, they suggest that an alternative approach to building quantum machines might yet have the potential to challenge the one being pursued by industry.

“While our system does not yet constitute a universal quantum computer, we can effectively program it by controlling the interactions between the qubits,” says Mikhail Lukin, a physicist at Harvard who developed on of the systems in collaboration with Vladan Vuletic at MIT.

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