Aussie boffins get all quantum with silicon

While boffins all over the world are trying to building their quantum computers out of materials such as light, exotic materials, or potentially dead or alive cats, a team in Australia has returned to humble silicon as the best thing.

Engineers from the University of New South Wales and the University of Melbourne have been looking at all those electrons embedded in silicon.

To build a quantum computer, researchers need to be able to write information to an electron, by changing its “spin state”, and to read information, by measuring its spin.

According to an article in Nature, which we get for the spot the neutrino competition, the boffins have created a device that measures the spin state of a single electron in a single phosphorus atom inside a block of silicon.

Andrea Morello said the team have demonstrated the ability to read out when the electron is in some random state. The next thing is to prepare it in exactly the state they want it.

While Quantum computers won’t speed up all day-to-day computing, they will be better at cracking most modern forms of encryption, searching databases; and modelling atomic systems such as biological molecules and drugs.

Apparently if the boffins can get the dead or alive cat to take its paw off the silicon for five milli-seconds they could be onto a winner. If only they can see it.