Australian researchers create world’s first working quantum bit

Researchers at the University of New South Wales have created the world’s first working quantum bit based on a single atom in silicon, which they claim will lead to the development of ultra-powerful computers in the future.

In a paper published in scientific journal Nature, the research team described how it was able to both read and write information using the spin, or magnetic orientation, of an electron bound to a single phosphorous atom embedded in a silicon chip.

This enabled them to form a quantum bit or “qubit”, the basic unit of data for quantum computers, which promise to solve complex problems “that are currently impossible on even the world’s largest supercomputers,” according to team leader Dr Andrea Morello.

“These include data-intensive problems, such as cracking modern encryption codes, searching databases and modelling biological molecules and drugs.”

The team was led by Dr Morello and Professor Andrew Dzurak from the UNSW School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications and also included researchers from the University of Melbourne and University College, London.