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Research is being conducted worldwide to develop a new type of computational device known as a quantum computer, based on the principles of quantum physics. Quantum computers could tackle specialized computational problems such as integer factorization or big data analysis much faster than conventional digital computers. Quantum computers will use one of a number of possible approaches to create quantum bits – units known as qubits – to compute and store data, giving them unique advantages over computers based on silicon transistors.

Despite the great potential, however, quantum computing faces many significant challenges, including controlling the qubits and isolating them from a noisy environment. Scientists and engineers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) are helping address those challenges by designing, fabricating and testing new components and devices aimed at supporting international quantum computing efforts.

GTRI's Quantum Information Systems (QIS) Branch uses individual trapped atomic ions as qubits in its research. In collaboration with university and industry partners, QIS scientists recently demonstrated two new ion traps, including one that uses a system of integrated mirrors to read data from multiple ions. The researchers also advanced concepts for integrating the electronic systems needed to control the ion traps inside the vacuum containers within which the traps operate. The research was sponsored by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) through the Army Research Office (ARO) and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR).

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