Washington, Feb 6 (ANI): A scientist at Princeton University has made a giant leap in quantum computing, by overcoming a major hurdle in the ambitious quest to design and construct a radically new kind of quantum computer.
The hurdle is to find a way to manipulate the single electrons that very likely will constitute the new machines' processing components or "qubits."
Princeton University's Jason Petta has discovered how to do just that.
He demonstrated a method that alters the properties of a lone electron without disturbing the trillions of electrons in its immediate surroundings.
The feat is essential to the development of future varieties of superfast computers with near-limitless capacities for data.
Petta, an assistant professor of physics, has fashioned a new method of trapping one or two electrons in microscopic corrals created by applying voltages to minuscule electrodes.
In his research paper, he described how electrons trapped in these corrals form "spin qubits," quantum versions of classic computer information units known as bits.
Previous experiments used a technique in which electrons in a sample were exposed to microwave radiation.
However, because it affected all the electrons uniformly, the technique could not be used to manipulate single electrons in spin qubits.
Petta's method not only achieves control of single electrons, but it does so extremely rapidly - in one-billionth of a second.
"If you can take a small enough object like a single electron and isolate it well enough from external perturbations, then it will behave quantum mechanically for a long period of time," said Petta.
An electron in a quantum state can simultaneously be partially in the spin-up state and partially in the spin-down state or anywhere in between, a quantum mechanical property called "superposition of states."
A qubit based on the spin of an electron could have nearly limitless potential because it can be neither strictly on nor strictly off.
New designs could take advantage of a rich set of possibilities offered by harnessing this property to enhance computing power.
In the past decade, theorists and mathematicians have designed algorithms that exploit this mysterious superposition to perform intricate calculations at speeds unmatched by supercomputers today.
Petta's work is using electron spin to advantage.
"In the quest to build a quantum computer with electron spin qubits, nuclear spins are typically a nuisance," said Guido Burkard, a theoretical physicist at the University of Konstanz in Germany.
"Petta and coworkers demonstrate a new method that utilizes the nuclear spins for performing fast quantum operations. For solid-state quantum computing, their result is a big step forward," he dded. (ANI)