Turns Out You Don’t Need a Quantum Computer To Host a Quantum State

Scientists from the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering have discovered that a quantum state can be embedded in to ordinary electronic devices made out of silicon carbide. Furthermore, through precise engineering each quantum state can be controlled and directed much in the same way as you would do for a quantum computer- the next generation of computing that can perform unfathomably complex calculations that many claim cannot be done by digital computers.

“The ability to create and control high-performance quantum bits in commercial electronics was a surprise,” said lead investigator David Awschalom, the Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering at UChicago and a pioneer in quantum technology.”These discoveries have changed the way we think about developing quantum technologies—perhaps we can find a way to use today’s electronics to build quantum devices.”

The reason why this is such an important discovery is because for the longest time quantum computers have required exotic elements and extreme temperatures to function properly. If the required parameters are not perfect, entanglement can decay and ruin the information contained inside of the vacuum sealed chamber. However if you can figure out a way to encode quantum information in to ordinary everyday electronics then you would drastically reduce the cost of transitioning to and maintaining a “quantum internet.” which promises to multiply our speed and processing power by several-fold.

Instead of using exotic material like superconducting metal, levitating atoms or diamonds, all we’d need to figure out is how to program quantum properties in to our existing infrastructure. According to the authors each quantum state has the added benefit of emitting single particles of light with a wavelength near the telecommunications band.

“This makes them well suited to long-distance transmission through the same fiber-optic network that already transports 90 percent of all international data worldwide,”said Awschalom, senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory and director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange.

The team was even able to program  a “quantum FM radio;” proving that quantum information can be transmitted over extremely long distances similar to how music is broadcasted through the air via electromagnetic frequencies.

“All the theory suggests that in order to achieve good quantum control in a material, it should be pure and free of fluctuating fields,” said graduate student Kevin Miao, first author on the paper. “Our results suggest that with proper design, a device can not only mitigate those impurities, but also create additional forms of control that previously were not possible.”

By using the diode, a one-way switch for electrons the researchers were able to completely clear the quantum signal of any noise making it almost perfectly stable.

“This work brings us one step closer to the realization of systems capable of storing and distributing quantum information across the world’s fiber-optic networks,” Awschalom said. “Such quantum networks would bring about a novel class of technologies allowing for the creation of unhackable communication channels, the teleportation of single electron states and the realization of a quantum internet.”

The paper was published in Science and Science Advances


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