(Nature.com) Data encryption typically relies on the practical difficulty of a process called prime factorization. In this process, a huge number (represented by 1,024 or more bits) is decomposed into a product of prime numbers. Such a task is notoriously time-consuming for conventional computers and is estimated1 to be much more efficient for a future quantum computer.
William A. Borders, from the Laboratory for Nanoelectronics and Spintronics, Research Institute of Electrical Communication, Tohoku University, have demonstrated demonstrate that an integrated circuit (a computer chip) containing nanoscale magnets can split numbers up to 945 into prime factors efficiently. Such a nanomagnet chip is much easier to make than a quantum computer and, if improved, could threaten data encryption.
NOTE: The original article pointed out these authors contributed equally: William A. Borders, Ahmed Z. Pervaiz.