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Researchers develop silicon quantum chip

Posted: 04 Sep 2012     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:silicon chip  mass-manufacture  quantum chips  microprocessors  glass-based circuits 

Scientists from the University of Bristol's Centre for Quantum Photonics have developed a silicon chip that will pave the way to the mass-manufacture of miniature quantum chips.

According to the researchers, this technology could be integrated with conventional microelectronic circuits, and could one day allow the development of hybrid conventional/quantum microprocessors.

"Using silicon to manipulate light, we have made circuits over 1000 times smaller than current glass-based technologies. It will be possible to mass-produce this kind of chip using standard microelectronic techniques, and the much smaller size means it can be incorporated in to technology and devices that would not previously have been compatible with glass chips," Mark Thompson, deputy director of the Centre for Quantum Photonics in the University's School of Physics said.

The leap from using glass-based circuits to silicon-based circuits is significant because fabricating quantum circuits in silicon has the major advantage of being compatible with modern microelectronics, said the researchers.

Unlike conventional silicon chips that work by controlling electrical current, these circuits manipulate single particles of light (photons) to perform calculations. These circuits exploit strange quantum mechanical effects such as superposition (the ability for a particle to be in two places at once) and entanglement (strong correlations between particles that would be nonsensical in our everyday world).

The new technology uses the same manufacturing techniques as conventional microelectronics, and could be economically scaled for mass-manufacture.

These new circuits are compatible with existing optical fibre infrastructure and are ready to be deployed directly with the internet.

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