Will Silicon Save Quantum Computing?

Silicon has become a leading contender in the hunt for a practical, scalable quantum bit

19 min read
Will Silicon Save Quantum Computing?
Illustration: Bryan Christie Design

Grand engineering challenges often require an epic level of patience. That’s certainly true for quantum computing. For a good 20 years now, we’ve known that quantum computers could, in principle, be staggeringly powerful, taking just a few minutes to work out problems that would take an ordinary computer longer than the age of the universe to solve. But the effort to build such machines has barely crossed the starting line. In fact, we’re still trying to identify the best materials for the job.

Today, the leading contenders are all quite exotic: There are superconducting circuits printed from materials such as aluminum and cooled to one-hundredth of a degree above absolute zero, floating ions that are made to hover above chips and are interrogated with lasers, and atoms such as nitrogen trapped in diamond matrices.

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Engineers Are Working on a Solar Microgrid to Outlast Lunar Nights

Future lunar bases will need power for mining and astronaut survival

4 min read
A rendering of a lunar base. In the foreground are rows of solar panels and behind them are two astronauts standing in front of a glass dome with plants inside.
P. Carril/ESA

The next time humans land on the moon, they intend to stay awhile. For the Artemis program, NASA and its collaborators want to build a sustained presence on the moon, which includes setting up a base where astronauts can live and work.

One of the crucial elements for a functioning lunar base is a power supply. Sandia National Laboratories, a research and development lab that specializes in building microgrids for military bases, is teaming up with NASA to design one that will work on the moon.

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Trilobite-Inspired Camera Boasts Huge Depth of Field

New camera relies on “metalenses” that could be fabricated using a standard CMOS foundry

3 min read
Black and white image showing different white box shapes in rows

Scanning electron microscope image of the titanium oxide nanopillars that make up the metalens. The scale is 500 nanometers (nm).

NIST

Inspired by the eyes of extinct trilobites, researchers have created a miniature camera with a record-setting depth of field—the distance over which a camera can produce sharp images in a single photo. Their new study reveals that with the aid of artificial intelligence, their device can simultaneously image objects as near as 3 centimeters and as far away as 1.7 kilometers.

Five hundred million years ago, the oceans teemed with horseshoe-crab-like trilobites. Among the most successful of all early animals, these armored invertebrates lived on Earth for roughly 270 million years before going extinct.

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Distinguishing weak signals from noise is a challenging task in data acquisition. In this webinar, we will explain challenges and explore solutions. Register now!
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