Home > News > UQ scientists make a quantum leap in research
December 11th, 2007
UQ scientists make a quantum leap in research
University of Queensland researchers are among an international team to have made the first ever execution of a quantum calculation, a major step towards building the first quantum computers.
Professor Andrew White, from UQ's Centre for Quantum Computer Technology together with colleagues from the University of Toronto in Canada, said by manipulating quantum mechanically entangled photons - the fundamental particles of light - the prime factors of the number 15 were calculated.
"Prime numbers are divisible only by themselves and one, so the prime factors of 15 are three and five," Professor White said.
"Although the answer to this problem could have been obtained much more quickly by querying a bright eight-year-old, as the number becomes bigger and bigger the problem becomes more and more difficult.
"What is difficult for your brain is also difficult for conventional computers. This is not just a problem of interest to pure mathematicians: the computational difficulty of factoring very large numbers forms the basis of widely used internet encryption systems."
Ben Lanyon, UQ doctoral student and the research paper's first author, said calculating the prime factors of 15 was a crucial step towards calculating much larger numbers, which could be used to crack cryptographic codes that are unbreakable using conventional computers.
"Our goal is not to break these codes in practice, but to show that they can be broken, and motivate a move to a more secure system," Mr Lanyon said.
"These codes form the basis of most banking and computer security and has implications of how we keep all data secure in the future."
Professor White said in any computer a problem must be broken down into manageable chunks.
"Classical computers use two-level systems called bits (binary digits) while quantum computers use two-level 'quantum-mechanical' systems called qubits (quantum bits)," he said.
"A qubit is like a coin that can be heads (on), tails (off) or simultaneously heads AND tails (on and off) or any possible combination in-between.
"This is impossible with normal bits but one qubit can be in two possible states, two qubits can be in four, three qubits in eight, and so on. Quantum memory sizes grow exponentially with the number of qubits.
"Functional large-scale quantum computers may be as many years away, and it is hard to know how they will change the world, but change our world they will."
The research will be published in the prestigious Physical Review Letters later this month.
Molecular engineers record an electron's quantum behavior August 14th, 2014
Diamonds are a Quantum Computerís Best Friend: A new kind of quantum computer is being proposed by scientists from the TU Wien (Vienna) and Japan (National Institute of Informatics and NTT Basic Research Labs) August 8th, 2014
Diamond defect interior design: Planting imperfections called 'NV centers' at specific spots within a diamond lattice could advance quantum computing and atomic-scale measurement August 5th, 2014
Watching SchrŲdinger's cat die (or come to life): Steering quantum evolution & using probes to conduct continuous error correction in quantum computers July 30th, 2014
The thunder god vine, assisted by nanotechnology, could shake up future cancer treatment: Targeted therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma using nanotechnology August 27th, 2014
Creation of a Highly Efficient Technique to Develop Low-Friction Materials Which Are Drawing Attention in Association with Energy Issues August 26th, 2014
Competition for Graphene: Berkeley Lab Researchers Demonstrate Ultrafast Charge Transfer in New Family of 2D Semiconductors August 26th, 2014
Symphony of nanoplasmonic and optical resonators leads to magnificent laser-like light emission August 26th, 2014
Nanodiamonds Are Forever: A UCSB professorís research examines 13,000-year-old nanodiamonds from multiple locations across three continents August 27th, 2014
Aspen Aerogels, Inc. to Present at Barclays CEO Energy-Power Conference August 27th, 2014
Nanotech Security Corp. to Acquire Fortress Optical Features Ltd., a Leading Producer of Banknote Security Features August 27th, 2014
Malvern specialists to deliver inaugural short course on polymer characterization at Interplas 2014 August 27th, 2014