Building a quantum computer is one of the big quests in physics today. It's a path littered with obstacles, but tiny milestones are achieved almost every day by researchers around the globe.
One major challenge may have been solved by Harvard scientists. The university reports that quantum bits (qubits) were created, sustained and their information stored at room temperature.
Typical quantum systems cannot be operated at room temperature. According to the Harvard researchers, such systems rely on a design that is capable of trapping an atom or electron in a vacuum and then cool the entire system to close to absolute zero. However, a paper published in the June 8 issue of Science claim that the scientists were able to leverage a pair of impurities in ultra-pure, laboratory-grown diamonds to create a quantum computer and store information in them for almost 2 seconds. That may not sound much, but represents an increase of nearly six orders of magnitude over the life span of earlier systems, Harvard stated.
"What we’ve been able to achieve in terms of control is quite unprecedented," physics professors Mikhail Lukin said. “We have a qubit, at room temperature, that we can measure with very high efficiency and fidelity. We can encode data in it, and we can store it for a relatively long time. We believe this work is limited only by technical issues, so it looks feasible to increase the life span into the range of hours. At that point, a host of real-world applications become possible."
For the first time, a research result promises that a quantum system could store data for expanded periods of time in real world conditions. What is missing, of course, is scale, which is what the scientists said they are working on now.