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Physicists Find The 'Missing Link' That Could Provide Quantum Internet Technology

Scientists must solve a number of challenging issues before quantum networks and computers can realise their enormous potential, but a recent study suggests a potential solution to one of these issues.


Recent studies have shown that silicon, the material that our current classical computing components are made of, has the potential to store quantum bits as well.

These quantum bits, also known as qubits, exist in a variety of forms and are essential for next-generation quantum computing performance.


One sort of qubit that scientists have been able to develop through time is silicon, but there is also the issue of connecting them at scale. According to the new research, certain silicon flaws called T centres can function as photonic (or light-based) links between qubits.

According to Canadian quantum physicist Stephanie Simmons of Simon Fraser University, an emitter like the T centre that combines high-performance spin qubits and optical photon generation is perfect for creating scalable, distributed quantum computers.


Instead of requiring the interface of two different quantum technologies, one for processing and one for communications, they can handle both tasks simultaneously.

In other words, it's a more effective system that could also be simpler to construct. According to the researchers, this type of quantum particle activity has never before been seen optically in silicon, adding to the evidence that it's a workable solution.


Another advantage is that T centres emit light at the same wavelength as current networks for fibre optic communications and telecom equipment. This would simplify the deployment of quantum internet technology.

According to Simmons, "T centres allow you to construct quantum processors that naturally connect with other processors."


"You get these same benefits for connecting the millions of qubits needed for quantum computing when your silicon qubit can communicate by emitting photons (light) in the same band used in data centres and fibre networks."


Using specialised microscopy techniques, the researchers created tens of thousands of tiny "micropucks" on silicon wafers and verified that each of these tiny components contained a small number of T centres that could be individually addressed and controlled.

Even though there is still much to be done, including the need to improve qubits' accuracy and dependability so they can be used to their full potential, this research brings the possibility of quantum computing one step closer.


If that future can be built on silicon, then a smoother transition to large-scale quantum computing is possible because we already have years of manufacturing experience and equipment at our disposal.

As stated by Simmons, "instead of creating a whole new industry for quantum manufacturing, you can take advantage of all of the years of development, knowledge, and infrastructure used to manufacture conventional computers."


The study was released in the journal Nature.

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