Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Physicist Studies Nature of Quantum Mechanics and the Submicroscopic World of 'Qubits'

Kunal Das, Ph.D., is a theoretical physicist.
Photo by Janet Sassi
Kunal Das, Ph.D., is a theoretical physicist. Photo by Janet Sassi

Abstract:
Some people want to move mountains. Kunal Das, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics, wants to move electrons.

Physicist Studies Nature of Quantum Mechanics and the Submicroscopic World of 'Qubits'

NY | Posted on November 16th, 2007

Das is a theoretical physicist researching an area where the classical rules of physics no longer apply—the nanoscale universe of quantum physics, a submicroscopic world where particles defy common sense. In that mysterious world of the ultra-small, Das is searching for new ways to move the currents that power computers.

"When the first computers came along in the 1960s, they were huge objects which filled up an entire room and had miniscule computing power," Das says, as he gestures to his computer in his Freeman Hall office. "How is it that today we have something this compact and with this much more power? Today, every two years computers become twice as fast and half as big."

Computers are powered by electronic circuitry in which currents move large clusters of electrons at a time to feed a tiny computer chip. The number of electrons needed for each operation has gotten smaller with time. But within 20 years, Das says, computers will reach a point where each operation could be done by just one electron, and thus won't be able to get any faster or any smaller.

What then? Where will technology go?

Already, scientists are experimenting with storing information not in bits, but in qubits (or quantum bits), which can potentially store much larger amount of information than traditional bits. Can a "quantumchip" be in the offing?

That's where quantum mechanics come in.

Das has focused his research on adiabatic electron pumps, which can be used to control the flow of individual or entangled pairs of electrons in order to power quantum computers. Quantum computers, which are still in their infancy, have the potential to perform certain calculations significantly faster than any silicon-based computer.

Quantum mechanics have become very important partly because, at the qubit level, individual particles of matter play essential roles. The current that powers the computer no longer flows as a cluster of electrons, but as one electron at a time; and such motion is governed by quantum mechanics.

"In classical physics, we talk about currents flowing continuously, like water," Das says. "At the nanoscale, your current is comprised of individual electrons, and it is discrete as opposed to continuous."

In other words, if you were to look at water flowing through a pipe, you would discover that at the submicroscopic level it is made of molecules that are discrete from one another, like individual grains of sand.

The problem is that the super-small world of quantum mechanics is notoriously unpredictable. In fact, an electron at the quantum level has a few weird characteristics that stem from the fact that quantum mechanics is all about probabilities, not absolutes.

"An electron, from a quantum mechanical perspective, does not behave like it does in classic physics, where it always acts like a particle," Das says. "Here, it acts like a particle some of the time and like a wave some of the time. It has wave-particle duality, and it becomes probabilistic, meaning you cannot say for sure that the electron is definitely here. It might have some probability of it being here, or some probability of it being there. That's what makes quantum mechanics strange and confusing to the layperson."

An adiabatic electron pumping system is complex, but Das describes it as a mechanism that manipulates the shape of the "quantum wavefunction" of an electron, by varying such things as voltage or a magnetic field at the nanoscale. Das is researching how to apply the pumping system to single electrons and also to pairs of "entangled" electrons in which one electron can affect another even when separated by vast distances.

He hopes that his research will ultimately lead to a dependable system of moving currents of electrons in a precisely controlled way without destroying their fragile quantum state, which is essential to powering quantum computers.

"Once we start using the wave nature of electrons and the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics, we can potentially do certain computations tremendously faster," he says.

Potentially?

At this point, quantum computers have not yet been built, although some experiments have been carried out. Research is being done at a frantic pace, however, as such systems would be invaluable to national security, Das says.

"All existing encryption systems are based upon the fact that we cannot crack them with the computers that we have available now," says Das. "With a quantum mechanical algorithm, you could crack encryption methods very fast."

There are also potential applications to teleportation, Das says, but not of the Star Trek variety—at least not yet.

"What you could teleport is the state of an electron," he says. "We could transfer those properties to a location which is far away, but not the physical object itself. So, in a sense, in quantum mechanics, you can be in two places at the same time."

####

About Fordham University
Fordham University is a thriving academic community due, in large part, to the energy with which its faculty participates in research. Research informs and invigorates teaching and, in turn, instills in students the contagious delight that comes with the acquisition of knowledge. Students trained in the habits of scholarly inquiry learn the essential art of educating themselves, a process that fosters their moral and religious development as well as their intellectual growth. A teaching community that is vigorously engaged in research prepares students for leadership in a global society and, ultimately, serves the needs of both the present and the future.

Fordham research contributes to the discovery and dissemination of both practical and theoretical knowledge. Professors across the disciplines conduct ground-breaking studies, engage in experimentation that leads to new scientific and technical applications, and generally contribute to the knowledge in their respective fields. The intellectual community at Fordham values knowledge both for its own sake and also for the good that it can accomplish in society. In keeping with this ideal, the University has developed state-of-the-art libraries and laboratories, sponsors programming that enables faculty and students to engage in research, and features venues through which faculty and students from within and beyond the institution exchange ideas.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Rose Hill Campus
Bronx, NY 10458
(718) 817-1000

Lincoln Center Campus
New York, NY 10023
(212) 636-6000

Marymount Campus
Tarrytown, NY 10591
(914) 631-3200

Copyright © Fordham University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

Quantum Computing

NIST tightens the bounds on the quantum information 'speed limit' April 13th, 2015

Electrical control of quantum bits in silicon paves the way to large quantum computers: Breakthrough by Australian-led team should make the construction of large-scale quantum computers more affordable April 11th, 2015

OU physicists first to create new molecule with record-setting dipole moment April 4th, 2015

Quantum teleportation on a chip: A significant step towards ultra-high speed quantum computers April 1st, 2015

Discoveries

How to maximize the superconducting critical temperature in a molecular superconductor: International team led by Tohoku University opens new route for discovering high Tc superconductors April 19th, 2015

Optical resonance-based biosensors designed for medical applications April 18th, 2015

Iranian Foodstuff, Agricultural Industries Welcome Nanotechnology Packaging Bags April 18th, 2015

Nanocomposites Play Effective Role in Production of Smart Fibers April 18th, 2015

Announcements

How to maximize the superconducting critical temperature in a molecular superconductor: International team led by Tohoku University opens new route for discovering high Tc superconductors April 19th, 2015

Iranian Foodstuff, Agricultural Industries Welcome Nanotechnology Packaging Bags April 18th, 2015

Nanocomposites Play Effective Role in Production of Smart Fibers April 18th, 2015

Dais Analytic Corporation Appoints Eliza Wang to Board of Directors: Company's Newest Director Brings Expertise in Commercial and Legal Matters Both in the United States and China; Joins on the Heels of Successful Business Development Trade Mission to China April 18th, 2015

Quantum nanoscience

Quantization of 'surface Dirac states' could lead to exotic applications April 15th, 2015

Electrical control of quantum bits in silicon paves the way to large quantum computers: Breakthrough by Australian-led team should make the construction of large-scale quantum computers more affordable April 11th, 2015

Quantum physics -- hot and cold at the same time: Measurements at the Vienna University of Technology show that a cloud of quantum particles can have several temperatures at once; the experiment provides new insight into the behavior of large quantum systems April 9th, 2015

A glass fiber that brings light to a standstill: By coupling photons to atoms, light in a glass fiber can be slowed down to the speed of an express train; for a short while it can even be brought to a complete stop April 9th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE