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Friday, 17 September 2010 10:11

Boffins come up with quantum optical chips

Written by Nick Farell
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Boffins at the University of Bristol have come up with a system which means that the number of quantum computing  algorithms may soon do more than current computers can manage.

Top boffin Professor Jeremy O'Brien, Director of the Centre for Quantum Photonics said that using a custom optical chip the his team can perform what's known as a "quantum walk" with two particles. The breakthrough will bring full on quantum computing closer than many thought possible. A quantum walk is like a random walk of maths only applied to  the world of quantum physics.

If the boffins get it right then algorithms go like the clappers. The team designed a network of optical circuits in a silicon chip, and then managed to make two photons perform a quantum walk along the network at the same time.

Another team has so far managed to do such quantum walks with one particle. But using two or more photons, means the number of outcomes increases exponentially. This allows the researchers to simulate highly complex situations that are outside of the number-crunching possibilities of today's fastest supercomputers.

Using the new technique, a quantum computer could, in less than ten years, be performing calculations that are outside the capabilities of conventional computers.

Nick Farell

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