SYDNEY, Sept. 27 (UPI) — Australian researchers say they’ve made a major step toward a working quantum computer by developing a single-electron “reader.”
Quantum computers promise huge increases in processing speed over today’s computers by using the “spin”, or magnetic orientation, of individual electrons to represent data in their calculations.
In order to employ electron spin, the quantum computer needs both a way of changing the spin state — to “write”– and of measuring that change — to “read” — to form a qubit, the equivalent of the bits in a conventional computer.
University of New South Wales scientists have, for the first time, measured the spin of one electron in silicon in an experiment, a university release said.
“Our device detects the spin state of a single electron in a single phosphorus atom implanted in a block of silicon. The spin state of the electron controls the flow of electrons in a nearby circuit,” Andrea Morello of the School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications at UNSW said.
“Until this experiment, no-one had actually measured the spin of a single electron in silicon.”
Now that they’ve created a single electron reader, the researchers say, they are working to complete a single electron writer and combine the two.
Then they will combine pairs of these devices to create a 2-bit logic gate — the basic processing unit of a quantum computer.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.