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Quantum Computing: New era computers

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    23rd Jun, 2023

Context

Recently, IBM published a paper in which it claimed to have demonstrated that a ‘quantum computer ‘could solve problem using technology and are expected to perform complicated calculations that are out of reach of the best supercomputers today.

  • A physicist at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and his team are trying to make ‘a Phonon based computer’. 

About

Key-findings of the study:

  • The team found that photons interact with the comb just like phonons interact with an optical beam-splitter.
  • The researchers developed an acoustic beam-splitter – a tiny device resembling a comb, with 16 metal bars jutting out of it. 
  • It was placed in the middle of a 2-mm-long channel of lithium niobate
  • Each end of the channel had a superconducting qubit – a qubit whose circuit components were superconducting – that could both emit and detect individual phonons.
  • The whole setup was maintained at an ultra-low temperature.
  • If these phonons were converted to sound, their frequency would be too high for humans to hear. 

Each photon in the study represented the “collective” vibration of around one quadrillion atoms.

What are phonons?

  • Photons are packets of light energy; similarly, phonons are ‘packets of vibrational energy’
  • The researchers can manipulate electrons using electric currents, magnetic fields, etc., and they can manipulate photons with mirrors, lenses, etc. 

What is a beam-splitter?

  • Beam-splitters are used widely in optics research. Imagine a torchlight shining light along a straight line.
  • This is basically a stream of photons. 
  • When a beam-splitter is placed in the light’s path, it will split the beam into two: i.e. it will reflect 50% of the photons to one side and let the other 50% pass straight through.

About Quantum Technology:

  • Quantum technology is a class of technology that works by using the principles of quantum mechanics (the physics of sub-atomic particles), including quantum entanglement and quantum superposition.
  • Example-Smartphone is a type of quantum technology – its semiconductors use quantum physics to work.

What is Qubit?

  • A qubit (or quantum bit) is the quantum mechanical analogue of a classical bit.
  • In classical computing the information is encoded in bits, where each bit can have the value zero or one.
  • In quantum computing the information is encoded in qubits.

National Quantum Mission: 

  • Duration: Eight years
  • Verticals: The mission involving research institutions and industry will have four verticals ;
    • three on quantum computing, communication and sensing
    • and fourth one on developing novel materials and devices that would aid in the three core programmes
  • Aim: To accelerate quantum technology-led economic growth and nurture the ecosystem in the country.
  • The new mission targets developing intermediate scale quantum computers with 50-1000 physical qubits in eight years in various platforms like superconducting and photonic technology.
  • Global race: India will be the seventh country to have a dedicated quantum mission after the US, Austria, Finland, France, Canada and China.
  • All these countries are also at the R&D stage.
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