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Breakthrough chip could usher in new era of quantum computers

Breakthrough device could usher in new era of quantum computing

Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) have demonstrated for the first time a monolithic 3d ion microtrap array that could be scaled up to handle several tens of ion based quantum bits (qubits).

The research, published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, shows how it is possible to realise the device embedded in a semiconductor chip, and demonstrates the device's ability to confine individual ions at the nanoscale. The team believes it could be used in quantum computation, where entangled qubits are used to execute powerful quantum algorithms.

While scalable ion traps consisting of a 2d array of electrodes have been developed before, this is said to be the first time an ion microtrap array that combines a near ideal 3d geometry with a scalable fabrication process has been created. In terms of elementary operating characteristics, the researchers claim the microtrap chip outperforms all other scalable devices for ions.

The device was developed from a silica on silicon wafer and created using a novel process based on conventional semiconductor fabrication technology. The team was able to confine individual and strings of up to 14 ions in a single segment of the array. The fabrication process, it says, should enable device scaling to handle greatly increased numbers of ions, whilst retaining the ability to individually control each of them.

Laura Hopperton

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