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UK scientists ‘make atoms dance’ for quantum computing research

UK scientists ‘make atoms dance’ for quantum computing research

Atoms will be used to make gates to control how and when a quantum machine works

Researchers at the UK’s University of Surrey have thrown their hats into the quantum computing ring by developed a way to make phosphorous atoms ‘dance.’

In their latest study – published in Nature Communications – scientists were successful in manipulating atoms of phosphorous with silicon crystals, controlling their shape and size and ‘making them dance.’

Up until now, the majority of quantum computers have been made using materials that are not mass-produced, and often using atoms suspended in a vacuum.

But this team is working with technology where single phosphorous atoms are trapped inside crystals of silicon, which are elements that existing computer chips are made from.

They believe that positioning these atoms in a fixed grid structure that could pave the way for reliable quantum computers. The strategy, called ‘surface code’ quantum computing involves placing many atoms in a fixed grid and using the ‘dance motion’ of the atoms to control how they interact.

Dr Steve Chick, who led the research with professor of physics, Ben Murdin, said the researchers intend to take advantage of the dancing atoms to make ‘gates’ to control when and how the quantum computer works.

“Our advanced control will help make our quantum computers more reliable even if they occasionally make mistakes. Classical computers already use ways of recovering from mistakes, but in quantum computers, it’s a much more difficult problem,” he said.

“We also hope that using materials which are already popular in computing will allow quantum computers and current computers to be compatible with each other.”

Researchers at universities worldwide are at the forefront of developing technologies that will drive future quantum computers. The University of New South Wales and Sydney University both have world-leading programs in quantum computing development.

In 2012, Andrew Dzurak, a Scientia Professor in Nanoelectronics at the University of New South Wales told CIO Australia that he expected that it would be 20 years before quantum computers capable of modelling and simulating complex biological and a chemical systems to create new materials would become commercially available.

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Tags quantum computingUniversity of SurreyAndrew DzurakNature CommunicationsDr Steve ChickBen Murdin

More about AustraliaUniversity of New South Wales

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