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Photonic Quantum Computers: a Brighter Future Than Ever


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An image of the optical network, the central part of the boson sampling computer.

An image of the optical network, the central part of the Vienna boson sampling computer. According to the laws of quantum physics, the photons seem to take different paths simultaneously, as shown in the image.

Credit: Philip Walther Group/University of Vienna

University of Vienna researchers have developed a prototype boson-sampling photonic computer, which they say is a new and highly efficient model of a quantum computer.

The researchers inserted photons into an optical network where they could propagate them along many different paths. The laws of quantum physics dictate that the photons simultaneously take all possible paths, a phenomenon known as superposition. "Amazingly, one can record the outcome of the computation rather trivially: one measures how many photons exit in which output of the network," says the University of Vienna's Philip Walther.

The researchers built the prototype based on a theoretical proposal developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers.

"It is crucial to verify the operation of a boson-sampling computer by comparing its outcome with the predictions of quantum physics," says University of Vienna researcher Max Tillmann. "Fortunately, for small enough systems, classical computers are still able to accomplish this."

From University of Vienna
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