Computing makes quantum leap with laser show

31 Jul 2007

A mixture of laser beams and super cold atoms is set to bring the world of quantum computing one step further to reality, as new research emerges from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Scientists said that by using three laser beams focused together to form a 3D ‘cage’ of light the containment of ultra cold rubidium atoms can be achieved.

When the polarisation of the laser cage or grid is changed it forces the atoms to pair off and swap the direction of their spin from up to down or vice versa.

As the standard microprocessor evolves, packing more and more computing power into one area, there is a limit at which it will be physically impossible to advance.

With quantum computing, information is not actually stored in bits like traditional computing but instead in quantum bits or qubits. The up or down spin of an electron can represent the 1 or 0 binary logic that is at the foundation of all computing.

The benefit of quantum computing would be unimaginable. A quantum computer would be able to process the volume of data in mere seconds that would take the world’s fastest computer, IBM’s Blue Gene/P, a few years to process.

Trey Porto, co-publisher of the research paper from NIST, said this is the first time that pairs of electrons could be isolated to represent the simplest units needed for developing quantum logic.

By Marie Boran