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Japanese company NEC, together with other researchers, claimed today they have made a breakthrough on the supercomputing front. According to NEC, the consortium has developed the fundamental building block for a future quantum computer by controlling the superposition of quantum states in a solid state electron device. The quantum states are used to represent data as a quantum bit or qubit, with similar characteristics to the binaries used by current machines. And NEC claims that when a machine is built using the breakthrough, it will allow computation to be thousands or millions of times more powerful than current supercomputers. NEC boffins made the solid state qubit by creating a so-called Cooper pair box by connecting a super conducting electrode some billionths of a meter with a reservoir of electrons using a Josephson Junction2. Quantum superposition states allowed the wave-like quanta to tunnel through the junction. In the device, two quantum states with a different number of electrons are coupled into superposition. ®

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