2012 Nobel Prize winners, physicist David Wineland and Serge Haroche were able to apply quantum superposition in a real-world experiment, where an atom was immobile and in motion simultaneously and ultimately in two places at the same time. Scientists expect this research to lead to new technologies including quantum computers, allowing transistors to be both on and off at the same time, thereby increasing the computer’s power and speed. Zintro experts share their thoughts on the future of quantum mechanics.
Computer engineer, Jeff Drobman, doubts whether superposition will directly lead to quantum computing, even though he considers the discovery to be fascinating. “Quantum computing is the holy grail of microelectronics — the smallest footprint imaginable. I don’t see how superposition alone supports this, or that transistors are even included in quantum computing. The goal for digital logic/memory has always been to utilize a two-state device, whose state can be both switched and detected,” Drobman explains. “In QC, a particle must be able to be in one of two states, not both. That said, this discovery could lead to another, more applicable, one, whereby two or more distinct states apply.”
Software architect, Stephen Heffner, defines how the number of stable states can affect the information density in memory storage and in the design of CPU instruction repertoires. “IBM’s ‘Project Stretch’ back in the 1960s examined the possibility of using ternary arithmetic instead of binary, and they concluded that it would be more efficient, but they couldn’t come up with a viable device they could use, so they wound up using binary design. If superposition can provide more than 2 stable states, their vision could be realized,” he notes. Assuming that, determining the state of a digit requires significantly less energy than the existing technology, Heffner thinks it is possible to reduce the power required for a digitized device, which could give rise to many digital technology applications. “If the transition from one state to another is significantly faster than current solid state technology, this could speed up computers correspondingly. If stable states can be achieved and determined at the atomic level, this can have dramatic effects on computer design, as we are already seeing with the increasing storage density industry is already achieving,” adds Heffner.
Business process analyst, Eric Sutherland, believes that medical research would benefit the most from this discovery along with information technology. “Quantum computers would enable a massive increase in processing power of big data. This would power R&D in a wide range of different fields and improve the speed of data communication between points. Improving security of data transmission is another benefit for IT companies to realize,” says Sutherland.
By Idil Kan
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