Single-Atom Transistor Created for Quantum Computer

Researchers have isolated a single phosphorus atom and placed it atop a silicon crystal with more precision than ever before. We are one step closer to achieving a quantum computer.

What's the Latest Development?

Researchers have isolated a single phosphorus atom and placed it precisely where they wanted to—atop a silicon crystal. The achievement is part of a ten-year project at the University of New South Wales to advance the science of quantum computing. Physics professor Jeremy Levy says the team's precision is important to the quantum computing effort "because 'qubits'—the fundamental building blocks of a quantum computer—must be carefully isolated from the rest of their environment." 

What's the Big Idea?

Quantum computing remains a theoretical possibility since interacting with any quantum system causes it to 'decohere'. "In other words, the qubit turns into an ordinary bit. If you want to build a quantum computer, you have to—among other things—isolate its qubits from their surrounding environment." However, the new advance could help create smaller conventional transistors, helping to keep Moore's law alive, which has accurately predicted the doubling of computer power every 18 months.

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