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Microsoft Says Its Weird New Particle Could Improve Quantum Computers

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A strange quasiparticle could make error-proof quantum computers.

This isn’t the first time Microsoft has claimed to have found Majorana zero modes.

Credit: Yuichiro Chino/Getty Images

Microsoft researchers have made a controversial claim that they have seen evidence of an elusive particle that could solve some of the biggest headaches in quantum computing, but some experts are questioning the discovery.

Quantum computers process information using quantum bits, or qubits, but current iterations can be prone to error.

"What the field needs is a new kind of qubit," says Chetan Nayak at Microsoft Quantum.

He and his colleagues say they have taken a significant step towards building qubits from quasiparticles, which are not true particles but collective vibrations that can emerge when particles like electrons act together. The quasiparticles in question are called Majorana zero modes, which act as their own antiparticle and have a charge and energy that equate to zero. That makes them resilient to disturbances – so they could make unprecedentedly reliable qubits – but also makes them notoriously hard to find.

From New Scientist
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