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Future quantum computers could be made of... silicon?

Retro flavour in latest undead moggy-chip trials

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In a slightly retro move, a top Blighto-Dutch boffinry alliance has declared yet another method of creating a practical "qubit" - a building block of the postulated weird yet puissant quantum computers of the future. This time the tiny piece of unknowable information is contained, not in some exotic new ultra-substance, but boring old silicon.

According to a statement issued by University College London, where some of the boffins were based:

The scientists have created a simple version of Schrodinger’s cat – which is paradoxically simultaneously both dead and alive - in the cheap and simple material out of which ordinary computer chips are made.

"This is a real breakthrough for modern electronics and has huge potential for the future," enthuses Professor Ben Murdin of the University of Surrey, also involved in the research.

It seems, no doubt purely coincidentally, that the silicon zombie-cat was created using a Dutch laser known as FELIX. According to Murdin, a crafty blast from the raygun "put an electron orbiting within silicon into two states at once - a so-called quantum superposition state".

Further smart work allowed the prof and his colleagues to cause the quantumly superposited electron moggy to then emit a "photon echo", allowing the information in the qubit to be used in a quantum computing system.

"Quantum computers can solve some problems much more efficiently than conventional computers - and they will be particularly useful for security because they can quickly crack existing codes and create un-crackable codes," adds Murdin. "Crucially our work shows that some of the quantum engineering already demonstrated can be implemented in the type of silicon chip used in making the much more common transistor."

The prof and his colleagues report their work in a letter to hefty boffinry mag Nature. It can be read (free) here. ®

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