There’s something incredible about the idea of a diamond discarded by jewelers as flawed becoming the world’s first solid state quantum computer. The design of the computer utilizes the flaws in the diamond’s structure as the key locations for incredibly tiny processors – known as qubits. The computer, fashioned from the insides of a diamond, is capable of a trick once judged impossible, and may change the face of how we look at computers forever.
While standard computers process information as a series of ones and zeroes, the quantum computer developed by scientists at the University of Southern California can process information both as a one and a zero – at the same time. And while quantum computers have come about before, this latest technological feat allows scientists to use quantum computing to process information with less background noise interfering than ever before. For the first time, we may be looking at a method that brings quantum computers into the real world in ways never before thought possible. To put it another way, the development could be nearly as exciting as the invention of the integrated circuit in the first place.
The team involved in the project included Daniel Lidar, a USC professor, and Zhihui Wang, a postdoctoral researcher. The circuits involved utilize quantum physics to make processing of information instantaneous. A computer using standard integrated circuits, no matter how small, must still process that information at a fixed speed while the qubits of a quantum computer process them virtually instantaneously. If used on a larger scale, computers using this solid state technology would finally be able to operate on the same quantum level as the neurons in a human brain.
If quantum computers do follow the expectations of many scientists, the result would be another computer revolution the likes of which we have never seen with computers operating at a fraction of the size performing much faster than ever before thought possible. Though it is relatively new today, within a few years the creation of this solid state diamond computer could be seen as a major historical precedent for technology and computers of the future.
Up until now, decoherence has been one of the largest problems with quantum computing. Those designing a qubit have had to make the device in often volatile environments where the machine sees a great deal of outside interference. By encasing the same qubits in diamond, however, external interactions are reduced significantly and the processing within becomes much more reliable.
In September of last year, one of the key architecture styles of qubit computing received vindication when researchers announced that they had successfully demonstrated that a quantum computer could be made using the Von Neumann RAM partitioning method.
So how big would quantum computing be in the real world? As far as practical purposes are concerned, a quantum computer is virtually unlimited in its processing power, if decoherence can be successfully contained.