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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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  • by DamonHD ( 794830 ) <> on Thursday March 15, 2007 @09:35AM (#18360987) Homepage

    The implication that the information is distributed like that in an optical hologram is very interesting, and doubly difficult to get my head around...

    But the fact remains that if you damage/disturb a holographic store you lose some information, even if that loss is spread over a large set of information. Maybe the ECC (error-correcting-code) technology being used in new small-geometry silicon CPUs could help if it can be done 'quantum-ly'.


  • Re:Yes, it's new (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pallmall1 ( 882819 ) on Thursday March 15, 2007 @01:33PM (#18364843)

    Excitations of these systems with topological order were once thought to be necessarily "gapped", that is, the quasiparticle excitations have an effective mass. However, Wen has proposed a more general notion of "quantum order", in which gapless (massless) quasiparticles, analogous to photons or other gauge vector bosons, can appear.
    One thing that immediately sprang to mind was that this might have an impact on the notions of phonons (not photons) in a crystalline lattice. Perhaps they are not quantized after all, at least not in the mineral herbertsmithite. "Gapless band" material properties may potentially be as revolutionary to semiconductor physics as the band gap properties of materials have been.

    At the very least, it will be interesting to see what the phase diagram of herbersmithite looks like.

"Everyone's head is a cheap movie show." -- Jeff G. Bone