It looks like we’re heading towards the post-binary PCs era. The researchers from the University of Maryland have created the first quantum computer that is not only programmable but, just like the regular computers, also re-programmable.
According to the researchers, this study is the most awaited discoveries that could now let the scientists run various multifaceted simulations and able to produce quick solutions to complicated calculations. These quantum computers could be much faster than the traditional computers but, due to their origin of creation, physics, are very difficult to program and reconfigure.
The machines we’re using currently operate purely with 0s and 1s, to process binary code at high speeds. However, for a potential processing boost, there is no third state, which the quantum computer promises to solve. It not only deals with the mere binary but also holds the logic of “superpositions” that is being both on and off at the same time.
“We tried to make a quantum processor of five qubits with trapped ions that is reconfigurable, and by that I mean that you can literally program algorithms into it,” said Shantanu Debnath, the lead author of the Nature paper, to Wired.
According to Mr. Debnath, this programmable quantum computer is a fundamental building block en route for large scale devices. “We demonstrated this by implementing four different algorithms and we are running more right now. In trapped ions, or any other computing platform, this had not been done before,” Debnath explained.
The quantum computer that Mr. Debnath and his colleagues have created is fully functional, programmable and reprogrammable. It’s built of five qubits where each qubit is an ion or electrically charged particle trapped in a magnetic field. They were able to implement the quantum algorithms using the using laser pulses that can be turned off and on.
Researchers are now working on the next step, which is to come up with a more compact version by shrinking the system. Debnath told about their plan to improve ion trap, the delivery of lasers, and the overall controls into the system. Also, they plan to scale it up to tap more qubits in the processor.