Physicists Have Quantum Computing A Step Closer To Reality By Stopping Light

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The world of quantum computing is a minefield. The more scientists think they know about it, the more they realize there’s so much more to learn.  But, with thanks to physicists in a laboratory in Canberra, we are that one step closer to seeing a real life working quantum computer as they managed to freeze light in a cloud of atoms. This was achieved by using a vaporized cloud of ultracold rubidium atoms to create a light trap into which infrared lasers were shone. The light was then constantly emitted and re-captured by the newly formed light trap.

This is a fantastic example of how light can be stopped. Even if it’s not the first time light has been frozen, it is the first time the theory has been proven beyond doubt. Knowing this is a possibility gives scientists more to work with in terms of creating a functional quantum computer. This is because it allows the light and atom interactions that are needed to develop quantum logic gates.

Traditional computers work with 1’s and 0’s called bits, whereas quantum computers work with quantum bits (or qubits) and also deals with 1’s and 0’s, but in a cleverer manner.  In quantum computing, a qubit can be assigned both a 1 and a 0 value at the same time, whereas in traditional computing, this would simply never work.  What this means for quantum computing is the ability to perform several different tasks all at once at very fast speeds.

Researchers are aware that we still have some way to go before we have the answers we need to produce a reliable quantum computer, but that’s not about to deter anyone.  But, as stated by Jesse Everett, lead researcher from the Australian National University, “Optical quantum computing is still a long way off, but our successful experiment to stop light gets us further along the road.”

The results from the experiment are published in Nature Physics.

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