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Physicists at the Universities of Bonn and Cambridge have succeeded in linking two completely different quantum systems to one another. In doing so, they have taken an important step forward on the way to a quantum computer. To accomplish their feat the researchers used a method that seems to function as well in the quantum world as it does for us people: teamwork. The results have now been published in the Physical Review Letters.

When facing big challenges, it is best to work together. In a team, the individual members can contribute their individual strengths – to the benefit of all those involved. One may be an absent-minded scientist who has brilliant ideas, but quickly forgets them. He needs the help of his conscientious colleague, who writes everything down, in order to remind the scatterbrain about it later. It's very similar in the world of quanta. There the so-called quantum dots (abbreviated: qDots) play the role of the forgetful genius. Quantum dots are unbeatably fast, when it comes to disseminating quantum information. Unfortunately, they forget the result of the calculation just as quickly – too quickly to be of any real use in a quantum computer.

In contrast, charged atoms, called ions, have an excellent memory: They can store quantum information for many minutes. In the quantum world, that is an eternity. They are less well suited for fast calculations, however, because the internal processes are comparatively slow. The physicists from Bonn and Cambridge have therefore obliged both of these components, qDots and ions, to work together as a team. Experts speak of a hybrid system, because it combines two completely different quantum systems with one another.

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