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Another Step Toward Quantum Computers: ­sing Photons for Memory

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A representation of the manipulation of microwave signals.

Scientists at Yale University have found a new way to manipulate microwave signals that could aid the long-term effort to develop a quantum computer.

Credit: Yale News

Yale University researchers have developed a method to manipulate microwave signals that could aid in the development of a quantum computer. The technique involves photons, which can serve as a quantum computer’s memory.

Photons can carry and hold quantum information for a long time because they interact weakly with the media they typically travel through, such as coaxial cables, wires, or air. The researchers developed an artificial medium in which photons repel other photons, which allows for the efficient, non-destructive encoding and manipulation of quantum information.

"Our experiment has shown that we can create a medium that on the one hand enables us to manipulate the photon state, and on the other hand does not absorb the photons, which would destroy the quantum information stored in them," says Yale's Gerhard Kirchmair. "This creates a source for novel quantum states without the need for complicated control techniques and could simplify certain quantum computation algorithms."

He says the research could be used in quantum computer development, but more work is needed.

"The tricky bit for future experiments will be to switch on and off this effect at will, so that it only happens if we want it to happen," Kirchmair says.

From Yale University
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