Physicists develop a new quantum computer that uses full range of atoms

Breaking the paradigm of binary information.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Digital transformation concept.metamorworks/iStock

There's been a lot of quantum breakthroughs as of late, each promising to be the key to the technology.

In May of 2022, a team of researchers from Germany's University of Innsbruck, RWTH Aachen University, and Forschungszentrum Jülich research institute proposed a method that could lead to the rise of error-free quantum computers. It consists of a computational operation that involves two logical quantum bits and can be employed for any kind of task. 

Then, just four days ago, scientists with funding from the Simons Foundation produced a phase of matter that behaves as if it exists in two-time dimensions and reported that information stored in the strange new phase of matter is far more protected against errors than information stored with the conventional setups currently used in quantum computers. 

Breaking out of zeros and ones 

Now a team at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, engineered a quantum computer that goes beyond binary information – zeros and ones- and unlocks additional computational resources that have long been kept hidden in almost all of today's quantum devices, according to a press release by the institution published Thursday.

 "The building blocks of quantum computers, however, are more than just zeros and ones," explained Martin Ringbauer, an experimental physicist from Innsbruck, Austria. "Restricting them to binary systems prevents these devices from living up to their true potential."

The team developed a quantum computer that can perform arbitrary calculations with so-called quantum digits (qudits), thereby unlocking more computational power with fewer quantum particles.

Physicists develop a new quantum computer that uses full range of atoms
Source: muhammet sager/iStock

How did they do this?

The statement describes it as follows:

"In the Innsbruck quantum computer, (...), information is stored in individual trapped Calcium atoms. Each of these atoms naturally has eight different states, of which typically only two are used to store information. Indeed, almost all existing quantum computers have access to more quantum states than they use for computation."

Making use of the full potential of atoms

By engineering a quantum computer that can make use of the full potential of these atoms, physicists have created a superior computer that can achieve much more while being just as reliable as its conventional counterparts. "Quantum systems naturally have more than just two states, and we showed that we can control them all equally well," said Thomas Monz, the new study's team leader.

What makes this new development even more advantageous is that many of the tasks that need quantum computers, such as problems in physics, chemistry, or material science, are also naturally expressed in the qudit language.

"Working with more than zeros and ones is very natural, not only for the quantum computer but also for its applications, allowing us to unlock the true potential of quantum systems," explained Ringbauer.

Could this be the development that finally seems quantum computing achieve its true potential?

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