Key Step Toward a Silicon Quantum Computer

Physicists read spin from a single electron in a silicon chip

3 min read
Key Step Toward a Silicon Quantum Computer

6 October 2010—In a triumph of experimental physics, a team of scientists led by Andrea Morello and Andrew Dzurak of the University of New South Wales, in Australia, report that they have managed to detect the magnetic state, or spin, of a single electron in a silicon chip. This is the first time that such a feat has been accomplished, and it is a promising step toward the development of silicon-based quantum computers, say the scientists.

Quantum computers, in contrast to those you use every day, seek to harness the laws of quantum mechanics to speed up calculations. These still-experimental machines hold out the promise of doing in seconds certain tasks that would take conventional computers years to complete. Quantum computing is a relatively new field, however, and only rudimentary machines have been built so far. Part of the problem with building large quantum computers is that large quantum systems do not hold information for long; they rapidly "decohere," in the parlance of quantum mechanics.

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An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

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