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  • Ultra-Pure Silicon Chip Sparks a Quantum Computing Revolution

    Quantum Computing University of Melbourne

    Source: SciTechDaily

    Researchers at the Universities of Melbourne and Manchester have invented a breakthrough technique for manufacturing highly purified silicon that brings powerful quantum computers a big step closer.

    The new technique to engineer ultra-pure silicon makes it the perfect material to make quantum computers at scale and with high accuracy, the researchers say.

    Enhancing Quantum Coherence

    Project co-supervisor Professor David Jamieson, from the University of Melbourne, said the innovation – published today (May 7, 2024) in Communication Materials, a Nature journal – uses qubits of phosphorous atoms implanted into crystals of pure stable silicon and could overcome a critical barrier to quantum computing by extending the duration of notoriously fragile quantum coherence.

    “Fragile quantum coherence means computing errors build up rapidly. With robust coherence provided by our new technique, quantum computers could solve in hours or minutes some problems that would take conventional or ‘classical’ computers – even supercomputers – centuries,” Professor Jamieson said.

    A qubit – such as an atomic nucleus, electron, or photon – is a quantum object when it is in a quantum superposition of multiple states. Coherence is lost when the qubit reverts to a single state and becomes a classical object like a conventional computer bit, which is only ever one or zero and never in superposition.

    Quantum bits or qubits – the building blocks of quantum computers – are susceptible to tiny changes in their environment, including temperature fluctuations. Even when operated in tranquil refrigerators near absolute zero (minus 273 degrees Celsius), current quantum computers can maintain error-free coherence for only a tiny fraction of a second.

    University of Manchester co-supervisor Professor Richard Curry said ultra-pure silicon allowed construction of high-performance qubit devices – a critical component required to pave the way toward scalable quantum computers.

    “What we’ve been able to do is effectively create a critical ‘brick’ needed to construct a silicon-based quantum computer. It’s a crucial step to making a technology that has the potential to be transformative for humankind,” Professor Curry said.

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