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World record for quantum memory smashed

A quantum leap
Fri Nov 15 2013, 17:04
Artist's impression of quantum data - Stephanie Simmons (CC BY)

SCIENTISTS HAVE MADE a quantum leap in the search for ultra-fast computing.

Boffins at Simon Fraser University managed to keep information in a quantum memory state for 39 minutes, smashing a hypothetical world record.

Previous attempts yielded results of under 30 seconds at room temperature and just under three minutes in cryogenic conditions.

The global race to harness the power of qubits has high stakes - the ability to create computers capable of calculating many times faster. Qubits are able to exist simultaneously in a superimposed state of '0' and '1'.

This experiment involved a new type of silicon that could, scientists believe, be the secret of creating long term memory in quantum systems.

Speaking to Sky News, co-author of the paper Stephanie Simmons of Oxford University said, "Thirty-nine minutes may not seem very long but as it only takes one-hundred-thousandth of a second to flip the nuclear spin of a phosphorus ion - the type of operation used to run quantum calculations - in theory over two million operations could be applied in the time it takes for the superposition to naturally decay by one percent."

The next stage will be to find a way to manipulate the qubits to talk to each other in a meaningful way so that information can be passed between them during their short, glorious lives.

Although there is a significant amount of research to come before quantum computing provides an effective alternative to traditional methods, this has been a huge leap forward for the concept, and it's widely expected that eventually the next leap will be the leap home. µ

 

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