"We're basically playing ping-pong with a single electron," says Cambridge University researcher Crispin Barnes, "we can capture single electrons and move them backwards and forwards wherever we like."
A single electron, bouncing between two electrical traps, has shown for the first time how information could be transferred between different parts of a quantum circuit.
"The more bounces we get, the more amazing our quantum computer can be," says Barnes.
Quantum computers manipulate information in the form of quantum bits, or qubits, which can be both a 0 and a 1 at the same time.
Qubits are fragile, however, and the act of measurement destroys them. So to protect quantum calculations, researchers need a way to transfer qubits from the area where the number crunching happens to a separate spot where they can be measured in isolation.
This is what the Cambridge team has done as a proof of concept. They created two electron traps called quantum dots on gallium arsenide.
Microwave pulses sent an electron to and fro between the two dots, They shuttled the electron 60 times over a total distance of 0.25 millimetres.