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Electronics rely on the movement of negatively-charged electrons. Physicists strive to understand the forces that push these particles into motion, with the goal of harnessing their power in new technologies. Quantum computers, for instance, employ a fleet of precisely controlled electrons to take on goliath computational tasks. Recently, researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) demonstrated how microwaves cut in on the movements of electrons. The findings may contribute to future quantum computing technology.

The logic operations of normal computers are based on zeros and ones, and this binary code limits the volume and type of information the machines can process. Subatomic particles can exist in more than two discrete states, so quantum computers harness electrons to crunch complex data and perform functions at whiplash speed. To keep electrons in limbo for experiments, scientists capture the particles and expose them to forces that alter their behavior.

In the new study, published December
18,2018 in Physical Review B, OIST researchers trapped electrons in a frigid, vacuum-sealed chamber and subjected them to microwaves. The particles and light altered each other's movement and exchanged energy, which suggests the sealed system could potentially be used to store quantum information – a microchip of the future.

"This is a small step toward a project that requires a lot more research—creating novel states of electrons for the purpose of quantum computing and storing quantum information," said Jiabao Chen, first author of the paper and a graduate student in the OIST Quantum Dynamics Unit, led by Prof. Denis Konstantinov.

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Category: Science