Thursday, May 13, 2010

#Quantum Move Toward Next Generation Computing

Quantum dots hold the promise of realizing the ultimate in compact storage--one electron per bit--but they have been difficult to study until these researchers invented a cantilever that can count individual electrons. Look for quantum computing devices to become commonplace within seven years. R.C.J.

Here's what the researchers say about their own work: Physicists at McGill University have developed a system for measuring the energy involved in adding electrons to semi-conductor nanocrystals, also known as quantum dots – a technology that may revolutionize computing and other areas of science. Dr. Peter Grütter, McGill’s Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Education, Faculty of Science, explains that his research team has developed a cantilever force sensor that enables individual electrons to be removed and added to a quantum dot and the energy involved in the operation to be measured. Being able to measure the energy at such infinitesimal levels is an important step in being able to develop an eventual replacement for the silicon chip in computers – the next generation of computing. Computers currently work with processors that contain transistors that are either in an on or off position – conductors and semi-conductors – while quantum computing would allow processors to work with multiple states, vastly increasing their speed while reducing their size even more. Although the term “quantum leap” is used in everyday language to connote something very large, the word “quantum” itself actually means the smallest amount by which certain physical quantities can change. Knowledge of these energy levels enables scientists to understand and predict the electronic properties of the nanoscale systems they are developing...
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