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A University of Melbourne-led team has perfected a technique for embedding single atoms in a silicon wafer one-by-one. Their technology offers the potential to make quantum computers using the same methods that have given us cheap and reliable conventional devices containing billions of transistors.

"We could 'hear' the electronic click as each atom dropped into one of 10,000 sites in our prototype device. Our vision is to use this technique to build a very, very large-scale quantum device," says Professor David Jamieson of The University of Melbourne, lead author of the Advanced Materials paper describing the process.

His co-authors are from UNSW Sydney, Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), Leibniz Institute of Surface Engineering (IOM), and RMIT Microscopy and Microanalysis Facility.

"We believe we ultimately could make large-scale machines based on single atom quantum bits by using our method and taking advantage of the manufacturing techniques that the semiconductor industry has perfected," he says.

Until now, implanting atoms in silicon has been a haphazard process, where a silicon chip gets showered with phosphorus which implant in a random pattern, like raindrops on a window.

"We embedded phosphorus ions, precisely counting each one, in a silicon substrate creating a qubit 'chip," which can then be used in lab experiments to test designs for large scale devices."

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