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Reprogrammable Quantum Computer Marks Major Step Into The Future

By Victor Thomson , Aug 08, 2016 05:20 AM EDT
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According to a new study, scientists have created the first programmable and reprogrammable quantum computer.

The detailed study presenting the reprogrammable quantum computer has been published in the Aug. 4 issue of the Nature journal. Live Science reports that the technology behind this new computer could mark the beginning of the much-anticipated era of quantum computing.

Quantum computers can help scientists come with fast solutions to sophisticated calculations. Complex simulations can also run on these ultra-fast quantum machines.

According to previous research, quantum computers could perform simultaneously more calculations in one instant than the total estimated number of atoms in the universe. Prior studies have also suggested that based on such impressive capabilities, quantum computers will be able to solve certain problems much faster than conventional computers. 

Quantum computers depend on quantum physics in order to function. The field of quantum physics suggests that the fundamental building blocks of the universe exist in states known as "superpositions." According to this, atoms, for instance, can spin at the same time in two opposite directions.

Quantum computing based on superposition is fundamentally different from traditional computing. Quantum computers represent data by "qubits" or quantum bits that are in superpositions. That means that a qubit could be simultaneously on and off and perform two calculations at the same time.

Until now, no quantum computing platform offered the capability to be reprogrammable, according to study lead author Shantanu Debnath of the University of Maryland, College Park. Now Debnath and his colleagues have developed the first fully reprogrammable quantum computer. The new machine is made up of just five qubits. Each of these quantum bits is an electrically charged particle (or an ion) trapped in a magnetic field.

According to Fortune, the first reprogrammable quantum computer represents a major advance over previous achievements in quantum computing. Until now, quantum computers have generally been static devices capable of running only one type of operation.

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