Researchers have a made a major step forward in the development of quantum computers that can run at speeds far faster than current systems.
A Spanish team claims to have created a pair of particles with 103 dimensions.
The experiment smashes the previous record of 11 dimensions, and mean quantum computers are one step closer to becoming commonplace.
The discovery could represent a great advance toward the construction of quantum computers with much higher processing speeds than current ones, and toward a better encryption of information, the researchers say.
The states in which elementary particles, such as photons, can be found have properties which are beyond common sense.
The phenomenon means that superpositions are produced, such as the possibility of being in two places at once, which defies intuition.
This allows quantum computers, for instance, to process more than one thing at a time more effectively – and makes them much quicker when processing several tasks at the same time.
In addition, when two particles are entangled a connection is generated: measuring the state of one (whether they are in one place or another, or spinning one way or another, for example) affects the state of the other particle instantly, no matter how far away from each other they are.
Scientists have spent years combining both properties to construct networks of entangled particles in a state of superposition.
This in turn allows constructing quantum computers capable of operating at unimaginable speeds, encrypting information with total security and conducting experiments in quantum mechanics which would be impossible to carry out otherwise.
Until now, in order to increase the ‘computing’ capacity of these particle systems, scientists have mainly turned to increasing the number of entangled particles, each of them in a two-dimensional state of superposition: a qubit (the quantum equivalent to an information bit, but with values which can be 1, 0 or an overlap of both values).
Using this method, scientists managed to entangle up to 14 particles, an authentic multitude given its experimental difficulty.
The research team was directed by Anton Zeilinger and Mario Krenn from the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
It included the participation of Marcus Huber, researcher from the Group of Quantum Information and Quantum Phenomena from the UAB Department of Physics, as well as visiting researcher at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO).
The team has advanced one more step towards improving entangled quantum systems.
In an article published this week in the journal PNAS, scientists described how they managed to achieve a quantum entanglement with a minimum of 103 dimensions with only two particles.
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