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MIT researchers have developed a process to manufacture and integrate "artificial atoms," created by atomic-scale defects in microscopically thin slices of diamond, with photonic circuitry, producing the largest quantum chip of its type.

The accomplishment "marks a turning point" in the field of scalable quantum processors, says Dirk Englund, an associate professor in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Millions of quantum processors will be needed to build quantum computers, and the new research demonstrates a viable way to scale up processor production, he and his colleagues note.

Unlike classical computers, which process and store information using bits represented by either 0s and 1s, quantum computers operate using quantum bits, or qubits, which can represent 0, 1, or both at the same time. This strange property allows quantum computers to simultaneously perform multiple calculations, solving problems that would be intractable for classical computers.

The qubits in the new chip are artificial atoms made from defects in diamond, which can be prodded with visible light and microwaves to emit photons that carry quantum information. The process, which Englund and his team describe in Nature, is a hybrid approach, in which carefully selected "quantum micro chiplets" containing multiple diamond-based qubits are placed on an aluminum nitride photonic integrated circuit.

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Category: Science