Scientists have been for a long time trying to come up with a programmable quantum computer. Small strides have progressively grown and currently we are nearing their debut. Shantanu Debnath and friends at the University of Maryland college have just unveiled a five-qubit quantum computer model that is programmable to run any quantum algorithm. This milestone achievement comes after scientists recently learned how to control quantum particle with the necessary precession to run quantum algorithm on a small scale using a few qubits.
Current conventional computers have incredible speeds, but still they have not entirely quenched our thirst. They are also approaching their limits regarding scaling and performance per watt hence the need to search for a perfect alternative. A programmable Quantum Computer can best solve the continued our desire for a faster computer while also giving us something new to keep anticipating on.
As of now, small quantum algorithms have been used in quantum computing platforms with most of them tailored in hardware to execute a limited number of computation paths or implement a particular algorithm. The current challenge is combining these techniques with the necessary precession to run quantum algorithm on a small sale while using a few qubits.
Shantanu Debnath and friends at the University of Maryland College model can be linked to others to perform quantum computations involving scores of qubits. Debnath and co noted that their small quantum computer could also be scaled to larger numbers of qubits using a single model and can be further expanded by connecting many models.
Scientist began researching on quantum computers in anticipation of the end of Moore’s Law that is not an actual natural Law but an observation. The observation is that the number of transistors in integrated circuit double every two years though the duration was tweaked to include a time span of 18 months. Moore Law has been broadly used in things like memory capacity, microprocessor, video resolution, sensors, and digital camera megapixel. Consumers have enjoyed the observation, especially in recent years with an inversely proportional increase in computer power in relation to cost. Scientists expect the Law’s progress to slow down once computer components cannot be any smaller.
Since 1990, scientists have been able to run quantum algorithms on a quantum computer. Since this achievement, their progress has stalled because of extreme difficulty in linking a large number of quantum particles while maintaining their quantum state. A Canadian company D-Wave claimed that they had built a quantum computer that could handle over 1,000 qubits though most physicists are deeply skeptical about this.
The ability to perform scores of functions is very crucial in quantum computers though very few can do this. Most of the currently available quantum computers have indeed been designed to carry out a single specific quantum algorithm. Debnath and his team have created a self-contained module that is capable of handling large numbers of operations. That’s what makes their device quite remarkable. They have noted that their module is also scalable- Five-qubit modules can be connected to create a much powerful quantum computer.
Many companies including Microsoft have been working on, a quantum computer. Bill Gate at one time last year noted that there is a chance that with 6-10 years, cloud computing will provide supercomputing by use of quantum. With this type of computers many scientific problems including catalyst design and material, modeling and simulation will be easily solved. The computers could also prove helpful in finding cures and developing medicine.
It is not clear whether a quantum computer will be universally applicable, or a will be just a niche technology. Governments are aware of their capabilities, and some are funding relevant research. Big organizations Like Nasa are studying the possible role of quantum computing in artificial intelligence and other related topics.
Image credit: MIT tech review