What's the Latest Development?

Physicists in the UK have created a 3D ion microtrap which could be scaled to store numerous ion-based quantum bits, paving the way for a quantum computer microchip. The country's National Physics Laboratory created the ion trap, "which is a combination of electric or magnetic fields that captures ions in a region of a vacuum the ions’ quantum state can be manipulated," by creating unique geometry combined with a scalable production process. The production process takes advantage of traditional semiconductor fabrication technology developed from a silica-on-silicon wafer. 

What's the Big Idea?

Because the new device can confine individual ions at the nanoscale, it could be used to perform quantum calculations, which process quantum bits, or quibits, rather than the binary bits used by today's computers. The technology "could be the basis of a future atomic clock device, with relevance for location, timing, navigation services or even the basis of a future quantum processor chip based on trapped ions, leading to a quantum computer and a quantum information network," said Alastair Sinclair, the principal scientist behind the research. 

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