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Nist Demonstrates Sustained Quantum Processing in Step Toward Quantum Computers

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National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) physicists have demonstrated sustained, reliable information processing operations on electrically charged atoms, or ions, a significant step toward building a quantum computer.

They repeatedly performed a combined sequence of five quantum logic operations and 10 transport operations while reliably maintaining the 0s and 1s of the binary data, or qubits, stored in the ions. They also were able to subsequently manipulate that information.

Before this demonstration, they were unable to get any qubit technology to perform a complete set of quantum logic operations while transporting information without disturbances degrading the later process. "The significant advance is that we can keep on computing, despite the fact we're doing a lot of qubit transport," says NIST researcher Jonathan Home.

They have now demonstrated on a small scale all the generally recognized requirements for a large-scale, ion-based quantum processor. Previously, they could perform these processes one at a time, but now they are capable of performing them together and repeatedly.

The most recent demonstration includes two key innovations. First, the researchers used two partner magnesium ions to cool the beryllium ions used as qubits after transporting them, allowing logic operations to continue without any additional errors due to heating caused by the transport. Second, they used three different pairs of energy states within the beryllium ions to hold information during different processing steps, allowing information to be held in ion states that were not altered by magnetic field fluctuations during ion storage and transport.

From National Institute of Standards and Technology

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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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