Quantum memory beats one second record

Scientists have taken a big step towards usable quantum memory, managing to hold a qubit of information for over a second.

Researchers at Harvard University managed to break the record for the length of time quantum information was held at room temperature, using a highly purified synthetic diamond material.  

Others, such as IBM, have also been attempting to keep qubits to retain their quantum states, but have struggled to stretch past hundreds of milliseconds.

Quantum information processing uses quantum bits, or qubits, and differs from the conventional digital states of 1 and 0 in that it can be in both states at the same time.  This offers up possibilities of mind bogglingly fast processing as researchers try to harness the power of quantum computing.

In the new study Harvard researchers showed the ability of the diamond material to provide the read-out of a quantum bit which had preserved its electron ‘spin’ for several minutes, as well as its memory coherence for over a second.

The synthesised diamond meets the  requirements of initialisation, memory, control and measurement that are necessary to build computational devices.

Crucially, the team managed to ensure that the information lasted long enough to make it usable for computational purposes without the need to cryogenically cool the material first.  

This makes real world applications more practical, and the team reckon that the purified synthetic diamond production method is scalable.

While real quantum computing applications are still a way off, the scientists reckon that applications in the shorter term are possible with quantum based sensors.