Room-temperature qubit breakthrough as quantum computer race heats up

Material made from the ashes of mothball ingredient naphthalene shows quantum potential

We are one step closer to a true quantum computer following a breakthrough which researchers say will allow qubits to be used at room-temperature.

One of the practical challenges of quantum computing has been the requirement to cool the quantum bits (qubits) to incredibly low temperatures, close to absolute zero and comparable to the temperature of space.

This super-cooling is necessary so that the quantum states of the qubit’s components remain ‘coherent’ and can perform computations.

University of Sydney’s Dr Mohammad Choucair, together with a team of researchers from Switzerland and Germany, has made a conducting carbon material and demonstrated its potential to perform quantum computing at real-world temperatures. It can also integrate into silicon, the chosen material of Sydney’s Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T) own bid to build a quantum computer.

The material is made of the ashes from burning naphthalene, a chemical commonly found in moth balls.

“We have made quantum computing more accessible,” said Choucair. “This work demonstrates the simple ad-hoc preparation of carbon-based quantum bits.

“Chemistry gives us the power to create nanomaterials on-demand that could form the basis of technologies like quantum computers and spintronics, combining to make more efficient and powerful machines.”

Choucair’s paper, Room temperature manipulation of long lifetime spins in metallic-like carbon nanospheres, was published online on Nature Communications this evening.

He said he believed the discovery would help bring forward ‘practical quantum computing’ to ‘within a few years’.

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Research will continue at the Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, particularly at the institute’s new $150m Sydney Nanoscience Hub. Choucair was keen to contribute to the development of a functioning quantum computer.

“Quantum computing will allow us to advance our technology and our understanding of the natural world,” said Choucair.

“Whether it’s designing drugs to cure cancer, cleaning our air or addressing our energy concerns, we need to build more complex computers to solve these complex problems.”

This story, "Room-temperature qubit breakthrough as quantum computer race heats up" was originally published by CIO Australia.

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