Quantum physics, the realm of subatomic investigations, may sound way too far from our reality, something that impacts only a few scientists who speak in equations, but the truth is that it is approaching our everyday lives.
Research centers like the one at Aalto University’s Department of Applied Physics are working on the implementation of the theoretical framework to make computer technology faster. Quantum computers can perform at a massively faster speed resulting in saving time while working on complex calculations.
Creating Quantum Computers
Subatomic engineering requires control over a set of special circumstances. The team led by senior lecturer Sorin Paraoanu designed a transmon chip, which, when cooled down just below absolute zero, starts behaving like an atom entering the quantum-realm. The group focused on the jump between energy levels of the transmon, the set values of energy the transmon can have.
To control the energy levels, scientists usually use microwave radiation, the transmon then absorbs the energy of the microwave and jumps to the next energy level. The specificity of this research is to make the energy level of the transmon jump more than one level.
Prior to this investigation, altering the energy-level by more than one changing more than one took the slow and very precise adjustment of the microwave. In order to make that happen faster, the team introduced a second microwave radiation thanks to which they are able to make the transmon jumping more than one energy level while having control over the maneuver.
Absorbing two photons of two microwaves at the same time increases the energy level of the atom by far so that it is close to the so-called quantum speed-limit, the estimated maximum speed the jump between energy levels is possible.
Easy to imagine. Easy to understand?
In order to make this utterly complicated process of high-speed energy transfer easy to understand, Dr. Sergei Dunlin, one of the authors of the article translates it to a metaphor to EurekAlert.com: 'To get a useful quantum system, you need to imagine climbing a ladder while holding a glass of water, it works if one does it smoothly - but if you do it too fast the water will be spilled. Certainly this requires a special skill.' This is not the first attempt by scholars at Aalto to describe their passionate adventures in the arena of the subatomic:
Quantum computers for real?
Quantum computers are unique devices capable of executing advanced calculations faster than their traditional counterparts by allowing bits to be zero and one at the very same time since quantum physics allows superpositioning (electrons occupying multiple states at one time). So instead of processing operations sequentially, quantum computers can do it simultaneously.
And yes, they are for real: IBM introduced the first integrated quantum computing system for commercial use earlier this year. In addition to boosting the speed of calculations, the implementation of the work done by scientists will change the way we think about charging electric cars.