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The development of a quantum computer that can solve problems, which classical computers can only solve with great effort or not at all—this is the goal currently being pursued by an ever-growing number of research teams worldwide. The reason: Quantum effects, which originate from the world of the smallest particles and structures, enable many new technological applications. So-called superconductors, which allow for processing information and signals according to the laws of quantum mechanics, are considered to be promising components for realizing quantum computers. A sticking point of superconducting nanostructures, however, is that they only function at very low temperatures and are therefore difficult to bring into practical applications.

Researchers at the University of Münster and Forschungszentrum Jülich now, for the first time, demonstrated what is known as energy quantization in nanowires made of —i. e. superconductors, in which the is elevated below which quantum mechanical effects predominate. The superconducting nanowire then assumes only selected energy states that could be used to encode information. In the high-temperature superconductors, the researchers were also able to observe for the first time the absorption of a single photon, a light particle that serves to transmit information.

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Category: Science