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RESEARCHERS TEST DRIVE NEXT GEN ‘SUPERCOMPUTERS’

18-05-2016
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Bristol PhD student Xiaogang Qiang completes testing on a quantum computer. Image courtesy of Villarreal Garcia, University of Bristol

Researchers from The University of Western Australia and the University of Bristol have made an exciting breakthrough in advancing a new wave of “supercomputers” by testing an early prototype of a quantum computer.

Quantum computers, still in their early stages of development, promise unprecedented computing power, with the ability to complete numerous tasks simultaneously, crack complex codes and solve difficult mathematical problems.

They are expected to enable advancements in research and technology, help solve global problems, and make our lives more efficient. 

Quantum computers work by using single photons, electrons and atoms, unlike traditional computers that use transistors implanted into a silicon chip. Information on traditional computers is stored in two states (0s or 1s), but on a quantum computer both states are used simultaneously, enabling much larger capabilities.

PhD student Thomas Loke, from UWA’s School of Physics, said the researchers worked to simulate a “quantum walk,” which enables information in the quantum computer to be manipulated and travel in many ways at the same time.

“The software I developed allowed the research team to test quantum walks and complete a complex algorithm on the computer, providing evidence that even an early prototype of the quantum computer can do more than a traditional computer,” Mr Loke said.

Mr Loke said it was the first experimental implementation of his quantum codes, and several more would follow. 

“Building a large-scale quantum computer is one of the biggest global engineering challenges and this research has brought us one step closer in this significant advancement for global technology,” he said.

The research was published in Nature Communications.