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Alternative Quantum Computing Data Storage Process Found

Carbon nanotube illustration (National Science Foundation)

Carbon nanotube illustration (National Science Foundation)

Physicists at Technical University Munich (Technische Universitaet Muenchen, TUM) in Germany found an alternative method for storing data as quantum bits for quantum computers using carbon nanotubes. The findings of TUM’s Simon Rips and Michael Hartmann appear online today in the journal Physical Review Letters (paid subscription required).

Quantum computing is a more powerful method of processing data that supports multiple simultaneous operations, than traditional bit-based 1/0 computing. Most current systems for storing quantum bits or qubits, use electronically charged particles, which can be feasible if shielded from electromagnetic interference. This shielding, however, adds overhead to quantum computing systems.

Rips and Hartmann devised a method for storing and processing qubits in the form of vibrations rather than charged particles. In their experiments, the researchers clamped a carbon nanotube at both ends, which they found can oscillate for an extended period of time, like a guitar string. “In fact, the string vibrates more than a million times,” says doctoral candidate and first author Rips. “The information is thus retained up to one second. That is long enough to work with.”

In that time, the researchers exposed the oscillating nanotubes in the vicinity of an electric field. The proximity of the electric field, they indicate, allows that two of the many physically equivalent states in the oscillating nanotube can be selectively addressed. This property enables data in the oscillation to be written and read with optical-electronic methods.

Hartmann, the senior author and TUM lab director, says the carbon nanotube technique can be adopted with current processes. “Our concept is based on available technology,” says Hartmann. “It could take us a step closer to the realization of a quantum computer.”

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