Home > Press > NIST Demonstrates Better Memory with Quantum Computer Bits
Improved prospects for making practical, reliable quantum computers
NIST Demonstrates Better Memory with Quantum Computer Bits
August 11, 2005
Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have used charged atoms (ions) to demonstrate a quantum physics version of computer memory lasting longer than 10 seconds—more than 100,000 times longer than in previous experiments on the same ions. The advance improves prospects for making practical, reliable quantum computers (which make use of the properties of quantum systems rather than transistors for performing calculations or storing information). Quantum computers, if they can be built, could break today’s best encryption systems, accelerate database searching, develop novel products such as fraud-proof digital signatures or simulate complex biological systems to help design new drugs.
As described in the Aug. 5, 2005, issue of Physical Review Letters,* NIST scientists stored information in single beryllium ions for longer periods of time by using a different pair of the ions’ internal energy levels to represent 1 and 0 than was used in the group's previous quantum computing experiments. This new set of quantum states is unaffected by slight variations in magnetic fields, which previously caused memory losses in ions stored in electromagnetic traps.
Quantum memory must be able to store “superpositions,” an unusual property of quantum physics in which a quantum bit (qubit) such as an ion represents both 0 and 1 at the same time. The new approach enables qubits to maintain superpositions over 1 million times longer than might be needed to carry out the information processing steps in a future quantum computer. The advance is, therefore, an important step toward the goal of designing a “fault tolerant” quantum computer because it significantly reduces the computing resources needed to correct memory errors.
In related experiments also described in the paper, NIST scientists demonstrated that pairs of “entangled” ions can retain their quantum states for up to about 7 seconds. Entanglement is another unusual property of quantum physics that correlates the behavior of physically separated ions. Superposition and entanglement are the two key properties expected to give quantum computers great power.
The research was supported by the Advanced Research and Development Activity/National Security Agency. More information about NIST's quantum computing research is available at NIST: Physics Laboratory's - Quantum Information.
* C. Langer, R. Ozeri, J.D. Jost, J. Chiaverini, B. DeMarco, A. Ben-Kish, R.B. Blakestad, J. Britton, D.B. Hume, W.M. Itano, D. Leibfried, R. Reichle, T. Rosenband, T. Schaetz, P.O. Schmidt and D. J. Wineland. Long-lived qubit memory using atomic ions. Physical Review Letters, 95, 060502 (2005).
About National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST):
From automated teller machines and atomic clocks to mammograms and semiconductors, innumerable products and services rely in some way on technology, measurement, and standards provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Founded in 1901, NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Commerce Department's Technology Administration. NIST's mission is to develop and promote measurement, standards, and technology to enhance productivity, facilitate trade, and improve the quality of life.
For more information, please visit www.NIST.gov
Copyright © NIST
If you have a comment, please Contact
Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.
Conference speakers: International think tank needed to identify techno-social turning points December 6th, 2013
Bangalore INDIA NANO 2013 Inaugurated December 5th, 2013
3-D printing and custom manufacturing: from concept to classroom: Strategic investments from NSF help engineers revolutionize the manufacturing process December 5th, 2013
The promise of nanotechnology December 4th, 2013
Decay used to construct quantum information November 26th, 2013
Topological insulators: Breaking symmetry for faster computers November 25th, 2013
Electrified Diamonds: Basel Physicists on the Trail of Quantum Information November 19th, 2013
A fresh step towards quantum computing November 19th, 2013
Leti Presentation at IEDM 2013 Will Report Phase-Change Memory Developments for Microcontroller Embedded Applications December 7th, 2013
Leti Announces Update of UTSOI Model that Allows Designers To Improve Trade-Off between Performance and Power Use December 7th, 2013
Steve Janack to Join Behan Communications and Lead Firm’s New Innovation Practice Group December 7th, 2013
Optical Quality Improvement of Electrical Circuits’ Electrode Zinc Oxide Nanowires December 7th, 2013