Technology

Combined qubit may bring scaleable quantum computing to silicon


Enlarge (credit: Oak Ridge National Lab)

Until fairly recently, the list of materials with which we might build a quantum computer have been notable because that list has one big exception: silicon. Silicon is, without doubt, an awesome material. Every semiconductor company in the world knows how to build stuff using it. Fabrication processes are so precise that features of just 50 atoms across are possible.

With these advantages, pretty much any time someone makes a new device, the first comment is: well that’s very pretty and all, but can you do it in CMOS? CMOS is a silicon-based complementary metal oxide semiconductor, the industry-standard process. If the answer is no, then, unless the product is world-changing (think light emitting diodes and laser diodes), industry interest evaporates faster than spilled vodka.

Now, if a recent theoretical paper is correct, silicon-based quantum computing may be on the verge of making the leap from not-even-on-the-list to technology-to-beat, thanks to a clever new way of thinking about qubit structures.

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