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New State of Matter Boosts Quantum Computation 41

Matthew Sparkes writes "In theory, quantum computers can be superior to classical computers for some kinds of problems; in practice their building blocks, qubits, are extremely fragile. Even a slight knock can destroy information. A radical solution to this problem was proposed in the 80's — instead of storing qubits in properties of particles, such as an electron's spin, it was suggested that qubits could be encoded into properties shared by the whole material, and so would be harder to disrupt. Unfortunately, no material with the needed properties existed. Scientists now think they have made a material in the lab, thought to be an example of a new state of matter, that might do the trick. It's an ultra-purified form of a mineral, herbertsmithite, first discovered in Chile in 1972. Its electrons are arranged in a triangular lattice. Researchers say it could become the silicon of the quantum computing era."
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New State of Matter Boosts Quantum Computation

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  • Re:Herbertsmithite? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Exsam ( 768226 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:29AM (#18360939)
    Surprisingly enough not Herbert Smith. TFA states that the material was named after a man the discovering geologists admired greatly. On another note, this material seems really interesting and I hope its unique properties can be applied usefully.
  • New kind of matter? (Score:4, Informative)

    by sxeraverx ( 962068 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:47AM (#18361107)
    This hardly seems to be a new kind of matter (i.e., matter, dark matter, anti-matter), or even a new phase of matter (solid, liquid, gas, [plasma?]). The article means it's a new phase, as it talks between the difference between solid and liquid. However, it mentions electrons as the determining factor, where it's actually nuclei. Heck, in solid metal, atoms have a lattice structure, but valence electrons flow freely from one to another, which is what makes metals such good conductors. The only thing remarkable about this compound is that it is supposedly arranged in a new space group.
  • Get the paper here (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ambitwistor ( 1041236 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @11:04AM (#18362101)
    The preprint [arxiv.org].

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"