This site has been archived on

The age of quantum

Quantum physicists are a self-deprecating group. It’s not easy working in a field that only few people remotely understand, so they mask this ‘quantum uncertainty’ in jokes and anecdotes: Why are quantum physicists so poor at sex? Because when they find the position, they can't find the momentum, and when they have the momentum, they can't find the position! Seriously, though, quantum science is finding its momentum in emerging ICT. Today, experts in the field of quantum information processing and communication are whispering about fault-tolerant quantum processors, entanglement enhanced metrology and sensors, long-distance quantum communication and ‘uncrackable’ encryption. Tomorrow, who knows what they will be shouting: ‘Beam me up Scotty!’

New spin on an old gem

European research has successfully grown a pure crystal of diamond which possesses all the properties required to control and read data in a quantum machine. Diamond has been identified as a promising candidate for solid-state quantum computing; unlike other approaches which generally require complex and expensive cooling systems, diamond can operate at room temperature.

Diamond-based quantum computers use electrons to store data bits, and photons (individual packets of light) to read and control the data bits. One of the most exciting properties of these quantum-grade diamonds developed under Equind is their long ‘coherence time’ – the length that single electron spins remain in phase.

It is important that electrons retain their quantum information (direction of spin) long enough to make computational calculations. The diamond crystals developed by Equind diphase after about 1.8 ms, the longest-ever observed in a solid-state system at room temperature!