Cambridge Scientists Reveal Quantum Computing Breakthrough

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Researchers have generated a quantum fluid thousands of times larger than usual that acts as a superconductor

Researchers at Cambridge University have created a quantum fluid that they said could be a breakthrough in the development of quantum computers.

Quantum computers use quantum mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform data operations.


The Cambridge University scientists built a semiconductor chip that uses lasers to generate particles exhibiting such phenomena, but on a much larger scale than usual – so large that they are visible to the human eye. The team named their particles “polaritons”.

The polaritons behave like superconductors and demonstrate classic quantum pendulum states, and the scientists found they could control the particles’ movements by moving the position of the laser beams.

The team said they could increase the number of laser beams to create more complicated quantum states.

“This is not something we ever expected to see directly, and it is miraculous how mirror-perfect our samples have to be,” said Cambridge University’s Dr Gab Christmann in a statement. “We can steer our rivers of polariton quantum liquid on the fly by scanning around the laser beams that create them.”

Christmann worked with Professor Jeremy Baumberg and Dr Natalia Berloff of the University of Cambridge, together with a team in Crete. The results of their research were published on Sunday in the journal Nature Physics.

Lower power

The team’s work is intended to allow polaritons to be generated with lower power requirements and at a broader temperature range, which would be a major step forward toward the creation of quantum circuits, as well as other applications such as ultrasensitive gyroscopes.

Last week scientists at the University of New South Wales in Australia said they had created a nanoscale wire four atoms thick that could extend the life of Moore’s Law and open other new possibilities for computer technology.

In December British nanotechnology firm Nanoco revealed it is working with Asian electronics manufacturers to produce next-generation televisions using ‘quantum dots’, a type of tiny three-dimensional semiconductor discovered in the early 1980s.

Nanoco’s quantum dots could find their way into next-generation flat-screen televisions by the end of next year, and may enable the manufacture of more advanced products such as flexible screens in another three years, according to Nanoco.