A group of scientists led by researchers from the University of Bristol’s Centre for Photonics is about to unveil a new silicon quantum chip that could once again change computing. The quantum computer chip could lead to “ultra-fast” computer processors, which would theoretically boost the living daylights out of the chips currently used in today’s smartphones, tablets and computers.
The scientists are expected to release more details about the chip this week at the British Science Festival in Aberdeen.
The chips manipulate light particles to perform calculations, which is a step up from current chips that manipulate electric currents to do the same.
The new chips are 1,000 times smaller than the current glass-made chips and may even be used to turn out tiny hybrid processors, which would be a mix of conventional and quantum processors. Those processors would subsequently be used in smartphones and computers and would be mass-produced.
Scientists have long chased the goal of quantum technology in computing. Ever since British physicist David Deutsch first proposed a quantum Turing machine in 1985, researchers and scientists have been working toward a computer that makes use of quantum properties like photons and electrons. Current computers have data requirements and must be encoded, but quantum computing would solve problems quicker and provide nearly endless calculations and solutions.
The research on the current quantum chip has been carried out in collaboration with a number of technology companies, including Toshiba, Nokia and Oclaro.
“Understanding quantum photonics opens exciting prospects for further research into security, sensors and information processing. Security of personal data, the ability for a device to sense the world around it and the ability to quickly interpret this information all offer future benefits for mobile device users,” lead researcher Antti Niskanen said.
The best news about this is perhaps that the technology uses the same silicon manufacturing techniques as conventional chips, which opens the doors to mass production and compatibility. The new circuitry would be compatible with existing infrastructure in broadband networks because they operate on the same wavelengths. The Internet is already fuelled by fibre optics, which uses light to move data.
When quantum computing becomes reality, there’s virtually no limit to the possibilities. Myriad tasks can be turned over to quantum computing, from object recognition in images to exhaustive database searches. Quantum computing could produce results to compound problems out of the purview of standard computing, like risk analysis in financial sectors and intricate chemical equations.