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New silicon computer chip will 'revolutionize' modern life: study

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-12-17 11:10

SYDNEY - Quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize the modern world and transform the way of life.

The incredible processing power could help design new medicines, reshape global travel or solve the world's energy problems.

But up until now no one has been able to develop a way to mass produce the millions of quantum chips (qubits) required to make it a reality.

However on Friday, a scientific article published by the University of New South Wales'(UNSW) Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T) in Australia, claims they may have found the answer.

"Our paper contains a blueprint for how to make a silicon, quantum computer chip that can do full universal quantum computing," CQC2T program leader, Prof. Andrew Dzurak told Xinhua.

Currently there are five different approaches being pursued across the globe, in the race to fabricate qubits.

These include ion traps, superconducting loops, diamond vacancies and topological qubits.

But UNSW's design is based on what's known as silicon spin qubits.

"Most subatomic particles, in this case electrons, spin on their axis, like the earth spins on its axis," Dzurak explained.

"We use that spin to encode information because you can encode the binary code of 0 and 1 used to do computing, into the direction of the spin."

"So then we can control the direction it spins on its axis."

Unlike other concepts, this approach mimics the solid-state devices that are already being produced for computers today, which means UNSW's design can be created using standard industry processes and components.

"We often think of landing on the Moon as humanity's greatest technological marvel," Dzurak said.

"But creating a microprocessor chip with a billion operating devices integrated together to work like a symphony that you can carry in your pocket! is an astounding technical achievement, and one that's revolutionized modern life."

"With quantum computing, we are on the verge of another technological leap that could be as deep and transformative."

It took roughly 20 years for technology to advance from a chip with a single transistor, to one with 1000.

It then took a further 20 years to be able to sustain one million transistors on a chip.

According to Dzurak, using current chip manufacturing technology, the silicon qubit's progress will be much faster.

"There is still a lot of work and engineering needed to be done, so we will be working with manufacturing plants that make silicon integrated circuits, to provide detailed steps to fabricate the chips," Dzurak said.

"What we are hoping to do in the next five years is to create 10 quantum bits, but we think we can potentially accelerate a lot faster than that if things go well and we'd like to think that we'll be well into the hundred's within the next decade."

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