Thursday, June 3, 2010

Scientists make quantum computing breakthrough

Scientists at the University of Cambridge and Toshiba Research Europe have made a monumental breakthrough in quantum computing with new LEDs.

The duo announced the invention of the Entangled Light Emitting Diode and plan to release a paper on it in the science journal Nature later today.

The head of the project at Toshiba Research Europe, Dr. Andrew Shields, said: "Although entangled light has been produced previously by shining an intense laser beam on crystals, the new simple device is the first voltage-powered source. The discovery is significant because it will allow electrical addressing of many entangled light emitters on a single chip, opening the path to ultra-powerful semiconductor processors based on quantum computation."

The ELED is based on standard LEDs used in current technology, such as traffic lights and the power indicators on most computers, meaning they can be produced quickly and cheaply for a mass market. The big difference, however, is that the ELEDs contain a nanometer-scale region of semiconductor which scientists call a quantum dot. This turns the conventional current into entangled light, opening many new avenues for quantum computing.

"For successful operation it was essential to optimise the thickness of the semiconductor material surrounding the quantum dot to control the supply of current to the dot," said Senior Research Scientist Dr. Mark Stevenson. "In addition the properties of the dot itself had to be carefully tailored to produce entangled emission."

This entangled light is necessary to make a quantum computer, which will be able to perform tasks well beyond the scope of current computer technology. Examples given by the scientists include modelling new pharmaceuticals or materials, communicating securely via quantum cryptography, and producing higher storage on optical disks.

Source: Scientists make quantum computing breakthrough