Quantum computers are so fast they hold the potential to completely revolutionize computing. Now, a team of scientists in Finland are claiming they can make these systems even faster. Researchers led by Aalto University’s Sorin Paraoanu reported their findings in Nature Communications on how they were able to create qutrits by shooting two pulses of light at a group of entangled atoms.
To understand what that actually means, a base-line knowledge of quantum computers is necessary.
Today’s computers and phones work on a number-based binary system of zeros and ones (think of that Futurama movie); make enough combinations of zeros and ones and computers can do some pretty incredible things. Technologists believe the way to speed up computers is by creating data points that can exist in multiple states at once. These are called qubits and can be read in the manner of binary code, but much faster. To somewhat oversimplify: Quantum computers digest all the information at once.
But qubits still eventually come out as a zero or a one, so what if we went wild and found a two? That’s what scientists call qutrits, where there are three states: zero is low energy, one is medium energy, and two is high energy. Paraoanu and his team found it was hard to keep the atoms in this middle state without getting disentangled (they want atoms that are entangled). So instead of doing it like Drake and starting from the bottom, the team sent pulses starting at the middle and it worked.
This process is described as backing out of a parking spot by first going forward. It doesn’t make intuitive sense but quantum physics rarely does. Quantum computing isn’t here yet and we don’t fully understand it (clearly), but once it does arrive expect it to bring drastic advancements in science, technology, and culture.