It’s a machine that could calculate solutions to problems so impossibly time-consuming that even the most powerful supercomputers could never handle them. And it would do so in an instant. This is the quantum computer, made possible by the bizarre nature of quantum mechanics. And though the idea is still in its infancy, it’s no fantasy.
Two research teams, at Harvard University and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Germany, have just announced that they have independently forged the building blocks for tomorrow’s quantum computers. As they published today in the journal Nature (1, 2), the scientists discovered a way to hook up atoms and particles of light to create a new type of switch and logic-gate‚ quantum versions of the connecting structures that link bits of data in modern computers.