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Quantum physics sets the laws that dominate the universe at a small scale. The ability to harness quantum phenomena could lead to machines like quantum computers, which are predicted to perform certain calculations much faster than conventional computers. One major problem with building quantum processors is that the tracking and controlling quantum systems in real time is a difficult task because quantum systems are overwhelmingly fragile: Manipulating these systems carelessly introduces significant errors in the final result. New work by a team at Aalto could lead to precise quantum computers.

The researchers report controlling quantum phenomena in a custom-designed electrical circuit called a transmon. Chilling a transmon chip to within a few thousandths of a degree above absolute zero induces a quantum state, and the chip starts to behave like an artificial atom. One of
thequantum features that interests researchers is that the energy of the transmon can only take specific values, called energy levels. The energy levels are like steps on a ladder: A person climbing the ladder must occupy a step, and can't hover somewhere between two steps. Likewise, the transmon energy can only occupy the set values of the energy levels. Shining microwaves on the circuit induces the transmon to absorb the energy and climb up the rungs of the ladder.

Cooling a computer down to within a few thousandths of a degree above absolute zero will be expensive and problematic. Quantum computing will never really take off until we develop room temperature quantum computers. To read more, click here.
Category: Science