Quantum Computing Gets New Approach

Credit: Tony Melov/UNSW

Australian researchers say they’ve found a way to achieve quantum computing with existing chip manufacturing. The “flip-flop qubit” could dramatically cut production time and cost for quantum computers.

The basic concept of quantum computers is to take advantage of the way subatomic particles can exist in multiple states simultaneously. That makes it possible to store data in an even more efficient manner than the traditional binary bits used to represent either a one or a zero; a quantum bit can also represent both at the same time.

In existing designs, quantum bits (or qubits) need to be placed both very precisely and very close together, making the production of a quantum processor a lengthy and expensive process.

Researchers based in the University of New South Wales took inspiration from a 1998 paper in Nature by Bruce Kane that talked about the idea of effectively tugging the electron away from the nucleus, creating electric dipoles. The qubits are then controllable by electric rather than magnetic signals, meaning they can be placed further apart and with less precision.

The big benefit is that this should allow quantum based chips to be produced with little or no alterations to the equipment currently used to make silicon chips, thus accessing the benefits of scale.

It’s still very much at the concept stage, but the idea could boost an $83 million (US$65 million) project by the University aimed at producing a 10-qubit silicon quantum integrated circuit by 2022.