What's more, this excitement has spiked over the last half-decade. Quantum computing has been theoretically realized for thirty years, and droves of physicists have been busy researching and proffering new quantum algorithms, novel mediums for information storage (such as diamonds or buckyballs), cryptographic techniques, unique logic gates, and many more applications. All for a computer that does not yet exist.
But recent advances suggest that the inception of such a computer is closer than many have thought. This was the crux of a recent New York Times article that detailed new improvements IBM has made in honing quantum computing – specifically, IBM researchers sped up computation and increased the lifetime of certain qubits, which tend to be unstable. It's usually a good sign for an emerging technology when the in-house applied research arm of a major tech company, which tend to invest their time and resources very conservatively, conveys optimism about its application.
The MPQ team has developed perhaps one of the most distilled and versatile permutations of of this technology. It implements two lone rubidium atoms as the nodes of the network. The qubit of information, stored as the quantum state of the one of the atoms, can be transfered through an emitted photon – which carries the quantum information – and is absorbed by the other rubidium atom. Over the winding fiber-optic cable, information is transmitted, received, and stored. The process is also completely reversible.
Send, read, write, save. The essential functions of networked computing can now be demonstrated in a system of just two atoms.