Quantum bits made from “designer molecules” are coming into fashion. By carefully tailoring the composition of molecules, researchers are creating chemical systems suited to a variety of quantum tasks.

“The ability to control molecules … makes them just a beautiful and wonderful system to work with,” said Danna Freedman, a chemist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. “Molecules are the best.” Freedman described her research February 8 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held online.

Quantum bits, or qubits, are analogous to the bits found in conventional computers. But rather than existing in a state of either 0 or 1, as standard bits do, qubits can possess both values simultaneously, enabling new types of calculations impossible for conventional computers.

Besides their potential use in quantum computers, molecules can also serve as quantum sensors, devices that can make extremely sensitive measurements, such as sussing out minuscule electromagnetic forces (SN: 3/23/18).

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