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'Quantum' computers said a step closer

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Dallas (UPI) Mar 22, 2011
U.S. researchers have demonstrated another step toward creating a quantum computer, exhibiting a so-called quantum chip at a convention in Dallas.

The 2-inch by 2-inch chip demonstrated by University of California, Santa Barbara, researchers at the American Physical Society meeting holds nine quantum devices, including four "quantum bits" that do the calculations, the BBC reported Tuesday.

A quantum computer would utilize strange "quantum states" of matter to perform calculations that could someday vastly outperform conventional computers.

Instead of the binary ones and zeroes of digital computers, quantum computers utilize what are known as superpositions -- states of matter that can be thought of as both one and zero simultaneously.

In a quantum computer, calculations on all possible superposition states can be performed at once.

While with only one quantum bit, or qubit, the speed advantage is not great, the effect scales rapidly as the number of qubits rises.

The figure often put forward for the number of qubits that would bring quantum computing to a competitive level with digital computers is about 100, so each increase in quantum devices on a chip is a significant one, experts say.

"It's pretty exciting we're now at a point that we can start talking about what the architecture is we're going to use if we make a quantum processor," UCSB researchers Erik Lucero said. "We're right at the bleeding edge of actually having a quantum processor."

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