(NetworkedWorld) Superconductor researchers at MIT are working on the nano-cryotron, a computer switch that could reduce the cost of making and running quantum computers.
Enterprise server farms are huge energy consumers, and the larger they are, the more voracious their appetite. Quantum computing could help because it is not only supposed to solve complex problems exponentially faster than classical computing, it’s also supposed to do so while consuming less energy. However major barriers—such as creating the extremely low temperatures required to enable superconductivity that is used in quantum-computing components—stand in the way.
A group of researchers in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science led by electrical engineering professor Karl Berggren have been tackling the problem of superconductor efficiency.
One of the reasons quantum computers are expensive is they rely on a computer switch called a “Josephson junction,” which basically is two layers of superconducting material with an extremely thin layer of non-superconducting material in between. Berggren tells MIT News that the Josephson junction “is fundamentally quite a delicate object” and thus difficult and costly to manufacture.
Berggren says he and his colleagues are working on a tiny, elegant device called the cryotron that could make the Josephson junction unnecessary. The cryotron acts as a switch, because when current flows through the coiled wire, its magnetic field reduces the current flowing through the straight wire.”
Berggren envisions nano-cryotrons eventually being used in both superconducting quantum computers and classical computers, which could result in considerably lower energy costs.