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Breakthrough in Bid to Create First Quantum Computer

University of New South Wales (09/20/12) Miles Gough

University of New South Wales (UNSW) researchers say they have created the first working quantum bit based on a single atom in silicon, which could lead to the development of ultra-powerful computers.  The breakthrough enables researchers to both read and write information using the spin of an electron bound to a single phosphorus atom embedded in a silicon chip.  “For the first time, we have demonstrated the ability to represent and manipulate data on the spin to form a quantum bit, or ‘qubit,’ the basic unit of data for a quantum computer,” says UNSW professor Andrew Dzurak.  The finding follows a 2010 study by the same UNSW researchers, who demonstrated the ability to read the state of an electron’s spin.  The discovery of how to write the spin state completes the two-stage process required to operate a quantum bit.  The researchers achieved their result using a microwave field to gain control over an electron bound to a single phosphorous atom.  “We have been able to isolate, measure, and control an electron belonging to a single atom, all using a device that was made in a very similar way to everyday silicon computer chips,” says UNSW’s Jarryd Pla.

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