Scientists might be making advances into the world of quantum computing, but actually making the components is understandably tricky.
Researchers at MIT and Harvard believe that they have made a giant leap towards making computing on a quantum scale a reality, however, by successfully converting a laser beam into a stream of single photons.
By doing this in a controlled way the joint team believe that they are able to make devices such as quantum gates whereby a single photon can be used to determine the polarisation of another.
The team was able to control the number of photons pushing their way through a cloud of atoms, acting as a turnstile to allow them to exit in a controlled way, one at a time.
Essentially this means that a conventional laser beam can be fired – containing jumbled photons – which can then be ordered through method into a stream of single photons.
This means that scientists are closer to a goal of measuring photons, rather than just detecting them – a process which involves them being destroyed immediately.
As far as quantum computing is concerned, greater control over photons could make the essential components needed for a working system.
Ultimately, this means single photon switches could be produced, as well as quantum logic gates, vital parts of quantum computers that will offer processing speeds many times faster than possible in conventional electronics.