Melbourne, June 20 : Diamonds are not just a girl's best friend, for now the gems have been shown to be equally cordial to computers, as they not only help the machines achieve more efficiency but also cool them down, says an Australian physicist.
Australian authorities have announced that they will be funding a 100 million Australian dollars supercomputing program for the life sciences, which will be a step ahead of today's generation of power hungry and inefficient computers.
Dr Steven Prawer, of the University of Melbourne said that quantum computers offer a new concept for computing, which makes use of exponential processing power, in a highly efficient process that doesn't dissipate heat.
"If everybody in the world today had access to the internet that you and I enjoy, we would use up all the available electrical power that we have on the planet. The new supercomputer will require millions of dollars in electricity to run and a large proportion of that will be for air-conditioning to keep it cool," ABC Online quoted Prawer, as saying.
He said that while classical computing makes use of a large number of transistors that flip on and off depending on whether currents flow through them or not. However, quantum computing will be based on 'qubits' that can be not only on or off, according to the spin of electrons in them, but both states at the same time.
This may result in very high processing power as messages based on these different states are capable of being processed in parallel.
Prawer said that a number of quantum computer designs are dependent on very low temperatures and complex infrastructure for the detection of the electron spin and to save from any damage by the outside environment.
However, he said that diamonds are unique in facilitating the building of quantum computers that operate at room temperature.
"All of the things that you would want from a quantum computer have been demonstrated in diamond," said Prawer.
He said that qubit can be the tiny manufactured diamonds with a nitrogen atom at their centre, and one ca use microwaves or laser pulses to manipulate the spin of the electrons in the diamond.
"No other solid offers you that simple access to the spin of a single electron. Diamonds are really a gem, in terms of allowing us to do quantum information processing," said Prawer.
While quantum computing at a large level is quite far, but Prawer said that diamonds can already be used for many new engineering and research devices.
He pointed out that the first quantum device to be commercialised was a diamond-based single photon source, being applied to quantum cryptography.
Prawer said that one more idea is to use diamonds to detect small biomagnetic fields, useful in brain imaging.
Prawer and colleauge Dr Andrew Greentree will be presenting their argument in favour of diamond-based quantum computing in the latest issue of Science.