Quantum hard drive prototype developed by researchers

New research is one step closer towards quantum computing.

How fast can your computer process data? It may get a lot faster, thanks to the development of a prototype quantum hard drive. This is the first time researchers have successfully developed a solid state quantum drive, which will store information longer and faster. The study was published in the journal Nature under the title “Optically addressable nuclear spins in a solid with a six-hour coherence time.”

Research at the Australian National University and the University of Otago in New Zealand involved developing a novel method of storing quantum information without using fiber optics. Their method included using a solid state device. They used the rare earth metal europium to store quantum information and then placed that into a crystal. Photons are the entity which carry quantum information, which is the word for a particle of light or packaged quantized light.

This method allowed them to overcome distance problems and storage capabilities. Quantum networks are very fragile and can currently extend to about only 100 km. This means one can transfer encrypted quantum information only a very short distance and even then, quantum information tends to be destroyed. Unlike conventional means of information transfer such as electronic transfer, an amplification of the quantum signal seems to cause more damage to the information. The current method used optical transfer of quantum information.

The new method described by this study makes it easier to transport information long range and for a greater amount of time. Their record storage retention time is six hours, which may not appear to be significant but relative to the competition, it is. Quantum technology will enable us to make unbeatable encryption codes, which can be used from a wide range of different areas, from banking to personal email.

The way this technology works is by the principle of quantum entanglement. The researchers exploit the fact that two particles can be related such that their information are intrinsically bound to one another. An entangled particle can be a distance across the universe from each other but the observation of a characteristic of one particle will collapse the quantum state of the other particle.

The consequence of quantum entanglement means information about one particle is instantly transferred to the other. The idea would be to store entangled light in separate solid state devices and transport them thousands of kilometers away.

“We believe it will soon be possible to distribute quantum information between any two points on the globe,” said physicist Manjin Zhong.

Using the solid state approach allows  physicists and researchers the ability to more extensively test one of the principle foundational concepts in modern concepts, quantum entanglement, as well improve on the technology itself. Currently, we have not been able to experiment with quantum entanglement with such long distances.

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