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Discovery May Overcome Obstacle For Quantum Computing: Ubc, California Researchers

Iron 8 molecule

An Iron-8 molecule

Image courtesy of University of British Columbia

Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the University of California, Santa Barbara say they have made a major advance in predicting and eliminating environmental decoherence, a phenomenon that has been one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome in developing quantum computers.

Quantum computing's potential depends on switches that can achieve state superposition, which means they can simultaneously be in the "on" and "off" position. However, efforts to achieve superposition have been blocked by decoherence.

"For the first time we've been able to predict and control all the environmental decoherence mechanisms in a very complex system, in this case a large magnetic molecule called the 'Iron-8 molecule,' " says UBC professor Phil Stamp.

The researchers prepared a crystalline array of Iron-8 molecules in a quantum superposition, and noticed that the decay of superposition due to decoherence was particularly slow. "Our ability to understand everything from the atom to the Big Bang depends on understanding decoherence, and advances in quantum computing depend on our ability to control it," says University of Southern California professor Susumu Takahashi, who contributed to the research.

From University of British Columbia
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