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Fundamental limitation to quantum computersJuly 07, 2005
A quantum computer can only function if the information exists for long enough to be processed. The so-called coherence of the qubit ensures that the quantum information remains intact. The researchers have now discovered that the coherence spontaneously disappears over the course of time and with this the stored information as well. This could pose a considerable problem for the development of a quantum computer.
A quantum computer makes use of the fact that a quantum mechanical system -an electron, an atom or even a larger system such as a superconducting quantum bit - can simultaneously exist in two states. Normally one of the two states disappears as soon as the system comes into contact with the outside world. The coherence then disappears as a result of the decoherence process and the information in a quantum bit is lost.
The article "An Intrinsic Limit to Quantum Coherence due to Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking" was published in Physical Review Letters, in the week ending 17 June 2005.
Dr Jeroen van den Brink
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