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Purdue Researchers Inch One Step Closer To Quantum Computing

We've already covered a new ThinkGeek gadget today, so let's keep the "Think Geek" ball rolling and talk about a concept that keeps real-life geeks awake at night, jittering at the thought of its awesomeness: quantum computing. Even though Lockheed Martin signed up to buy an underperforming "Maybe it's a quantum computer" from D-Wave One a few months back, the face-melting power we think of when uttering the words "Quantum computer" is still a long ways off. A pair of researchers at Purdue University just inched it a little bit closer to reality, however.

Engadget pointed us towards the Purdue Newsroom, where a press release announced that professors Michael Manfra and Gabor Csathy created a "high-mobility gallium-arsenide molecular beam epitaxy system" that allows them to create ultrapure gallium arsenide semiconductor crystals. The cutting-edge machine outputs crystals that are a perfect lattice of gallium and arsenide atoms, precise down to the atomic level.

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That's not a lollipop, it's ultrapure gallium arsenide made from the machine in the background.

This exacting precision lets the team eliminate the ability for electrons to travel on a third plane, restricting mobility to only move back and forth or side to side movements. After cooling the gallium arsenide to absolute zero – about -460 Fahrenheit – and applying a magnetic field to the material, the electrons inside break the laws of single-particle physics and enter a correlated state, in which changes to one electron reflect in the other electrons. The whole theory of quantum computing is based upon particles in correlated motion.

Don't expect to find quantum computers on the shelves of your local Best Buy anytime soon, though. There's still a lot of science left to figure out before correlated electrons help you keep track of your spreadsheets. "These exotic states are beyond the standard models of solid-state physics and are at the frontier of what we understand and what we don't understand," Manfra admitted in the press release.

07-29-2011, 03:43 PM
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