New Data Storage Breakthrough Could Be Crucial Step For Quantum Computing!

Image: Stuart hay, ANU

Researchers at the Australian National University have developed a new data storage that could be used to store quantum information as well as connect to traditional fiber optics which also promises to be impervious to hacking. 
A quantum computer exploits quantum mechanics to solve certain specific problems like factoring huge numbers much faster than we know how to solve them with any existing computer. Quantum mechanics has been the basic framework of physics since the 1920s. It’s a generalization of the rules of probability themselves. From day to day life, you’d never talk about a minus-20 per cent chance of something happening, but quantum mechanics is based on numbers called amplitudes, which can be positive or negative or even complex numbers. The goal in quantum computing is to choreograph things so that some paths leading to a wrong answer have positive amplitudes and others have negative amplitudes, so on the whole they cancel out and the wrong answer is not observed.
“We have shown that an erbium-doped crystal is the perfect material to form the building blocks of a quantum Internet that will unlock the full potential of future quantum computers," said associate professor Matthew Sellars in a statement. "The effort to build a quantum computer is often described as the space race of the 21st century. Our work will allow us to build a global network to connect quantum computers."
Currently, the record for longest distance quantum communication is held by the Chinese quantum satellite Micius, which was able to use quantum teleportation across 1,400 kilometers (870 miles). Through fiber optics or air, the record is around 100 kilometers (62 miles).

Quantum computers rely on the constructions of qubits, the quantum mechanical equivalent of bits. So far, these are quite delicate and can be easily disrupted, so researchers are struggling to both maintain them and transmit them with high fidelity. The erbium crystal makes it easier for qubits to be transferred as they go through less hassle.
"At the moment researchers are using memories that don't work at the right wavelength, and have to employ a complicated conversion process to and from the communications wavelength," explained Dr Rose Ahlefeldt. "This can be inefficient, and means they have to do three very difficult things instead of just one."

Quantum computers hold the promise to revolutionize science in general, since they have the ability to process problems that the most advanced supercomputers can’t.