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Tiny Crystal Revolutionizes Computing

University of Sydney (04/26/12) Verity Leatherdale

Researchers at the University of Sydney, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, Georgetown University, North Carolina State University, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research have developed a tiny crystal that enables a computer to perform calculations that are too difficult for the world’s most powerful supercomputers.  “The system we have developed has the potential to perform calculations that would require a supercomputer larger than the size of the known universe–and it does it all in a diameter of less than a millimeter,” says Sydney’s Michael Biercuk.  The new quantum simulator is potentially faster than any known computer by 10 to the power of 80, according to the researchers.  They say the crystal goes beyond all previous experimental attempts in providing “programmability” and the critical threshold of qubits needed for the simulator to exceed the capability of most supercomputers.  The simulator also can be used to gain insights about complex quantum systems.  “We are studying the interactions of spins in the field of quantum magnetism–a key problem that underlies new discoveries in materials science for energy, biology, and medicine,” Biercuk says.

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