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Today’s computers are based on the the idea of bits that are either in a 0 or 1 state. The states of the standard bits in computer hard drive storage are controlled by magnetism.
Research in quantum computing is investigating the use of bits that are based on quantum mechanical theory. While standard bits can only have two states, qubits have three states: 0, 1, or a combination of 0 and 1. Qubits are based on the spin states of an electron.
Scientists in Australia have been able to create a more stable qubit, a discovery that may make quantum computing more practical. The breakthrough uses artificial atoms, atoms composed of electrons but no nucelus.
Andrew Dzurak, professor at UNSW in Sydney Australia, said that “artificial atoms with a higher number of electrons turn out to be much more robust qubits than previously thought possible, meaning they can be reliably used for calculations in quantum computers. This is significant because qubits based on just one electron can be very unreliable.”
“When the electrons in either a real atom or our artificial atoms form a complete shell, they align their poles in opposite directions so that the total spin of the system is zero, making them useless as a qubit. But when we add one more electron to start a new shell, this extra electron has a spin that we can now use as a qubit again… We can control the spin of electrons in the outer shells of these artificial atoms to give us reliable and stable qubits.”