What's the Latest Development?

Researchers from Harvard, Caltech, and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have made big advances in resolving a fundamental problem with storing quantum information by holding a quantum bit, or qubit, stable for more than a second inside an artificial diamond. Previously, this type of qubit was preserved for only a few thousandths of a second. "We’ve achieved this almost thousand-fold improvement with relatively little experimental effort," said David Hunger from the Max Planck Institute. The nucleus of a carbon atom served as the researchers' qubit. 

What's the Big Idea?

The standard unit of memory storage for today's computers, a bit, is vastly more complicated in the quantum world. While a bit can have two possible values, one designated as "0" and the other as "1", a qubit can hold both values simultaneously. "Its information content consists in the respective weight of '0' and '1': the qubit can consist of 20 percent '0' and 80 percent '1', for example. ... This means that many values can be stored in a single qubit." According to the no-cloning theory of quantum physics, which prohibits the copying of quantum information, qubits could be used for "forgery-proof" data storage.

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