Switch gives NEC key to take quantum leap

Switch gives NEC key to take quantum leap
David Manners NEC says that its laboratories have fabricated a key building block which will bring closer the advent of quantum computers. Its new quantum switch can operate using much fewer electrons than current transistors. It is made with features ten times smaller than today’s gate lengths and is fabricated in the form of a superconducting Josephson Junction. Whereas other researchers have sought quantum effects through the spin of a molecule or laser-cooled ions, NEC has produced a quantum device in a transistor-like form which makes it more easily handled. Quantum switches can simultaneously represent more than one binary state, making them the ideal component for fuzzy computing but are extremely difficult to programme. NEC says that a quantum computer consisting of 10,000 gates could perform in a few minutes an operation which would take a supercomputer five trillion years. A particular application which quantum computers would be superb at is pattern recognition, a task at which current computers are poor. Also, quantum computers would be ideal for cracking encryption codes which are based on finding extremely large primary numbers. In theory a quantum computer could try every number in an encryption string in one step. The significance of NEC’s development is that it can control the ability known as ‘superposition’ for quantum devices i.e. that it can control which state a quantum device – capable of existing in several states simultaneously – is currently in.


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