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Advanced Science News Explores How Quantum Computers Work and What Makes Them So Powerful

By IQT News posted 26 Nov 2020

(AdvancedScienceNews) Advanced Science News provides a primer on quantum computers and their use of the bizarre principles of quantum mechanics to manipulate information. The article points out quantum computers are poised to revolutionize our computing capabilities. IQT-News summarizes the information below.

The quantum bit and principle of superposition
Quantum computers rely on qubits as their basic unit of information. As opposed to conventional binary computers, which operate in units of information represented by 1s or 0s, qubits can exist as a “1” and “0” at the same time. This is made possible by what physicists call the principle of superposition, which states that a quantum system can exist in several separate quantum states at the same time.

How do qubits make a quantum computer?
The idea of a qubit sounds rather simplistic, but actually poses a bit of an engineering problem because they are extremely sensitive to outside interference and need very specific pressure, temperature, and insulation to operate correctly.
Qubits are subatomic particles, like electrons, trapped ions, or photons, which have been isolated in a controlled quantum state. This is done physically through manipulation of the particle’s excited states using laser pulses, as one example, to put them into a state of superposition.

What is quantum entanglement and how does it make quantum computers more powerful?
Individual qubits can be linked together through a phenomenon called quantum entanglement.
On a basic level, when two quantum particles become entangled, they exist in identical quantum states. Changing anything about the quantum state of one particle (i.e., by measuring it) instantaneously changes the state of the other, even when separated by vast distances in fact, recent experiments have demonstrated entanglement between two photons separated by a distance of 1203 kilometers, where one was located on Earth and the other in an orbiting satellite.

What will quantum computers be used for?
The intent is not to use them for everyday tasks like sending emails, making spreadsheets, or even gaming. Instead, quantum computers will be a problem-solving tool as their computing power would allow them to carry out complex calculations, predictions, simulations, and database searches.

What is quantum supremacy?
Quantum supremacy refers to the moment when a quantum computer is able to outperform a conventional system or accomplish a task otherwise thought impossible even for a powerful supercomputer. The term itself is controversial, with some researchers proposing “quantum advantage” instead.

When will a universal quantum computer be made?
The field is still in its infancy but if successful, quantum computers could transform technology as we know it. Only time will tell!

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