Qubit Holds Data for 39 Minutes at Room Temperature, Breaks World Record
13 December 2013
Researchers have achieved a major breakthrough by demonstrating for the first time that data can be kept in quantum state for an impressive 39 minutes at room temperature, opening the way for the development of super-fast quantum computers, Photonics.com reports.
The team of physicists that carried out the experiment was led by Mike Thewalt, professor at the Simon Fraser University in Canada. The researchers put quantum bits of information, or 'qubits,' into a 'superposition' state in which they can exist at both '1' and '0' at the same time, allowing them to perform multiple calculations simultaneously, something which is generally achieved at very low temperatures. The team encoded information in the nuclei of phosphorus atoms in silicon and increased the temperature of the system from -269 °C to 25 °C, showing that the superposition states can stand this mild temperature for 39 minutes. The previous record for survival in such a fragile quantum state outside of silicon was just two seconds.
The researchers even managed to control the qubits as the temperature increased, making it possible for this information to survive being "refrozen."
The physicists started with a piece of silicon doped with small amounts of other compounds such as phosphorus, storing the data in the nuclei of the phosphorus atoms, each of them carrying a quantum property known as spin that acts like a small magnet when a magnetic field is applied.
With this experiment the researchers have overcome a major challenge associated with building ultrafast quantum computers, which could greatly benefit security, code-breaking and the transmission and storage of data, helping address issues that are currently impossible to solve on conventional computers, Thewalt said. With such a technique in place it would also be possible to control the behavior of quantum systems, opening up the possibility for the development of new drugs by providing deeper knowledge of molecular interactions, he added.