Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Rice physicists move one step closer to quantum computer: 'Electron superhighway' could pave way for creation of elusive quantum-particle pairs

 This semiconductor chip contains hundreds of tiny "electron superhighways," submicroscopic devices that could one day be useful for building quantum computers.
This semiconductor chip contains hundreds of tiny "electron superhighways," submicroscopic devices that could one day be useful for building quantum computers.

Abstract:
Rice University physicists have created a tiny "electron superhighway" that could one day be useful for building a quantum computer, a new type of computer that will use quantum particles in place of the digital transistors found in today's microchips.

Rice physicists move one step closer to quantum computer: 'Electron superhighway' could pave way for creation of elusive quantum-particle pairs

Houston, TX | Posted on October 4th, 2011

In a recent paper in Physical Review Letters, Rice physicists Rui-Rui Du and Ivan Knez describe a new method for making a tiny device called a "quantum spin Hall topological insulator." The device, which acts as an electron superhighway, is one of the building blocks needed to create quantum particles that store and manipulate data.

Today's computers use binary bits of data that are either ones or zeros. Quantum computers would use quantum bits, or "qubits," which can be both ones and zeros at the same time, thanks to the quirks of quantum mechanics.

This quirk gives quantum computers a huge edge in performing particular types of calculations, said Du, professor of physics and astronomy at Rice. For example, intense computing tasks like code-breaking, climate modeling and biomedical simulation could be completed thousands of times faster with quantum computers.

"In principle, we don't need many qubits to create a powerful computer," he said. "In terms of information density, a silicon microprocessor with 1 billion transistors would be roughly equal to a quantum processor with 30 qubits."

In the race to build quantum computers, researchers are taking a number of approaches to creating qubits. Regardless of the approach, a common problem is making certain that information encoded into qubits isn't lost over time due to quantum fluctuations. This is known as "fault tolerance."

The approach Du and Knez are following is called "topological quantum computing." Topological designs are expected to be more fault-tolerant than other types of quantum computers because each qubit in a topological quantum computer will be made from a pair of quantum particles that have a virtually immutable shared identity. The catch to the topological approach is that physicists have yet to create or observe one of these stable pairs of particles, which are called "Majorana fermions" (pronounced MAH-yor-ah-na FUR-mee-ons).

The elusive Majorana fermions were first proposed in 1937, although the race to create them in a chip has just begun. In particular, physicists believe the particles can be made by marrying a two-dimensional topological insulator -- like the one created by Du and Knez -- to a superconductor.

Topological insulators are oddities; although electricity cannot flow through them, it can flow around their narrow outer edges. If a small square of a topological insulator is attached to a superconductor, Knez said, the elusive Majorana fermions are expected to appear precisely where the materials meet. If this proves true, the devices could potentially be used to generate qubits for quantum computing, he said.

Knez spent more than a year refining the techniques to create Rice's topological insulator. The device is made from a commercial-grade semiconductor that's commonly used in making night-vision goggles. Du said it is the first 2-D topological insulator made from a material that physicists already know how to attach to a superconductor.

"We are well-positioned for the next step," Du said. "Meanwhile, only experiments can tell whether we can find Majorana fermions and whether they are good candidates for creating stable qubits."

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, Rice University, the Hackerman Advanced Research Program, the Welch Foundation and the Keck Foundation.

####

About Rice University
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Texas, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is known for its “unconventional wisdom." With 3,485 undergraduates and 2,275 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is less than 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 4 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to futureowls.rice.edu/images/futureowls/Rice_Brag_Sheet.pdf.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
David Ruth
713-348-6327


Jade Boyd
713-348-6778

Copyright © Rice 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 Links

A copy of the PRL paper is available at:

Related News Press

News and information

Review of the recent advances of 2D nanomaterials in Lit-ion batteries March 15th, 2019

Converting biomass by applying mechanical force Nanoscientists discover new mechanism to cleave cellulose effectively and in an environmentally friendly way March 15th, 2019

Exotic “second sound” phenomenon observed in pencil lead: At relatively balmy temperatures, heat behaves like sound when moving through graphite, study reports March 15th, 2019

Quantum sensing method measures minuscule magnetic fields: MIT researchers find a new way to make nanoscale measurements of fields in more than one dimension March 15th, 2019

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Exotic “second sound” phenomenon observed in pencil lead: At relatively balmy temperatures, heat behaves like sound when moving through graphite, study reports March 15th, 2019

Researchers reverse the flow of time on IBM's quantum computer March 14th, 2019

When semiconductors stick together, materials go quantum: A new study led by Berkeley Lab reveals how aligned layers of atomically thin semiconductors can yield an exotic new quantum material March 12th, 2019

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Begins Dosing in Phase 1 Study of ARO-APOC3 for Treatment of Hypertriglyceridemia March 11th, 2019

Quantum Computing

Researchers reverse the flow of time on IBM's quantum computer March 14th, 2019

Researchers move closer to practical photonic quantum computing: New method fills critical need to measure large-scale quantum correlation of single photons February 28th, 2019

Media invited to open meeting on the future of quantum technology held at RIT Jan. 23-25: Leaders from NASA, NSF, NIST and Sandia National Laboratory to attend January 11th, 2019

Spintronics 'miracle material' put to the test: Physicists build devices using mineral perovskite January 11th, 2019

Discoveries

Review of the recent advances of 2D nanomaterials in Lit-ion batteries March 15th, 2019

Converting biomass by applying mechanical force Nanoscientists discover new mechanism to cleave cellulose effectively and in an environmentally friendly way March 15th, 2019

Quantum sensing method measures minuscule magnetic fields: MIT researchers find a new way to make nanoscale measurements of fields in more than one dimension March 15th, 2019

Lightweight metal foams become bone hard and explosion proof after being nanocoated March 14th, 2019

Announcements

Review of the recent advances of 2D nanomaterials in Lit-ion batteries March 15th, 2019

Converting biomass by applying mechanical force Nanoscientists discover new mechanism to cleave cellulose effectively and in an environmentally friendly way March 15th, 2019

Exotic “second sound” phenomenon observed in pencil lead: At relatively balmy temperatures, heat behaves like sound when moving through graphite, study reports March 15th, 2019

Quantum sensing method measures minuscule magnetic fields: MIT researchers find a new way to make nanoscale measurements of fields in more than one dimension March 15th, 2019

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



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project