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Quantum Hard Drive Breakthrough

Writing quantum information onto a europium ion embedded in a crystal.

Physicists developing a prototype quantum hard drive have improved storage time by a factor of more than 100.

Credit: Solid State Spectroscopy Group/Australian National University

A solid-state technique has enabled physicists from Australian National University (ANU) and the University of Otago to develop a prototype quantum hard drive that achieved a record storage time of six hours.

The team stored quantum information in atoms of the rare earth element europium embedded in a crystal. The researchers view crystals as portable optical hard drives for quantum entanglement, according to ANU's Manjin Zhong.

The team used laser light to write a quantum state onto the nuclear spin of the europium crystal and then subjected it to a combination of a fixed and oscillating magnetic fields to preserve the fragile quantum information.

The researchers say the boost in storage time by a factor of more than 100 is a major step for those who envision a secure worldwide data encryption network based on quantum information, and they note the network could be used for banking transactions and personal emails. "We believe it will soon be possible to distribute quantum information between any two points on the globe," Zhong says.

From Australian National University
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