Our team at IBM Research made a breakthrough in controlling the quantum behavior of individual atoms, demonstrating a versatile new building block for quantum computation.

In the paper, "Coherent spin manipulation of individual atoms on a surface," published today in the journal Science, our team demonstrated the use of single atoms as qubits for processing. Quantum bits, or qubits, are the fundamental building blocks of a quantum computer's ability to process information.

This is the first time a single-atom has been achieved using a Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM), the Nobel Prize-winning IBM invention that allows atoms to be viewed and moved individually. This is an important breakthrough because the STM can image and position each atomic qubit to precisely control the arrangement of nearby qubit atoms. The microscope works by scanning the ultra-sharp needle tip near a surface to sense the arrangement of individual atoms, and the needle tip can pull or carry atoms into desired arrangements.

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