Quantum computer built using current technology

— 12:00 AM on December 19, 2005

Researchers at the University of Michigan have announced what they believe is the first quantum computer chip that's both built on present-day technology and capable of significant scaling. If their optimism is borne out, this may prove to be a very significant advance in quantum computing.

Scaling, in this case, refers to both the number of ion traps that can be built into a single processor and the number of atoms (or qubits). To date, ion traps have been capable of holding only a few atoms each, with each trap being assembled by hand. Now, according to the press release, that's all changed:

"The semiconductor chip we demonstrated holds an individual atom in free space inside the chip—we levitate the atom in the chip by applying certain electrical signals to the tiny nearby electrodes," Monroe said. "We directly view this single atom with specially-tuned lasers and a sensitive camera. This type of ion trap has never been demonstrated at such a small level and in an integrated chip structure."
It's not exactly an announcement of mass-market availability, but it's no small achievement. Being able to leverage current CPU manufacturing technology could drastically shorten the development time of even an experimental quantum CPU.
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