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Scientists have taken a significant step toward creating a revolutionary, fully-functional quantum computer, according to the results of a new study published in the journal Nature Communications on Wednesday.

The researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia said they had managed to get the most basic units of the next-generation computer, known as quantum bit or qubits, to communicate with each other—an important milestone for the technology and a world first that, until now, had been never been demonstrated.

The reason for the discovery’s significance is that the scientists are now closer to being able to "entangle" their qubits—an essential step to building a viable quantum computer.

Quantum entanglement is a mind-boggling physical phenomenon described by the bizarre laws of quantum mechanics in which pairs or groups of tiny particles interact with each other in such a way that they can no longer be described independently, even if they are separated by vast distances—such as being on opposite sides of the universe, for example.

Once researchers are able to effectively entangle qubits, they will be able to unlock the full potential of quantum computers. A single quantum chip containing just 50 to 60 entangled qubits, for example, would have more power than the world’s fastest supercomputers, which take up whole buildings.

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Category: Science