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Quantum computing at the frontier

David Wineland, a member of the NIST Ion Storage Group

By James Dacey

A few weeks back I reported new findings from a group at NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology) that could become a significant milestone in the quest for a practical quantum computer.

The researchers had proudly unveiled the first device (albeit a very tiny one) to perform all the steps needed for large-scale quantum processing.

Crucially, their ion-based device was able to shift data between six designated zones in the trap without losing too much of it in the process — no mean feat given the oh-so-delicate nature of quantum information.

Well, a new paper on the arXiv reveals that this ambitious NIST group have not rested on their laurels and they are already looking to scale-up their ion-based quantum computing. They report the design, fabrication, and preliminary testing of a new type of ion-trap — this time containing 150 zones.

The new trap is bedecked with a “surface-electrode” geometry, which would permit even larger scaling, they claim.

I got in touch with David Wineland, a member of the NIST team. He confirmed that the group has yet to perform any algorithms using the device but they are continuing to develop the research.

Watch this space for when they do!

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