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2D Superconductor Materials Show Promise for Future of Quantum Computers

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Advanced electronics, such as quantum computers, have taken a huge step forward thanks to the work of scientists at University of California, Irvine. The UCI researchers worked in conjunction with physicists and scientists from a variety of institutions, including Princeton University, Fudan University, the University of Maryland, UC Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to create new 2D superconductor materials that could change the future of the advanced electronics.

Over the course of three studies, researchers designed and created a new superconductor material. This material is incredibly small in size, coming in at just a few atoms long and mere microns in thickness. But what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in power: the compound flourished under extremely cold temperatures that would have stopped others in their tracks. Additionally, the new compound operates in a very different way from its predecessors. Instead of relying on electrons, the signal carriers are all a type of particle that has no mass and moves at nearly the speed of light.

In order to work with such small compounds and elements, scientists had to rely on a very particular piece of equipment: a fiber-optic Sagnac inferometer from UC Berkeley. This magnetic microscope has been hailed as the most sensitive of its type in the whole world, and was perfectly suited to dealing with these delicate 2D compounds.

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So what does this all have to do with quantum computers? Although graphene has long been considered a viable replacement for silicon parts, there’s been one pervasive problem: some of the components need both electronic and magnetic properties. Graphene simply cannot supply both; this new compound, however, can.

“Finally, we can take exotic, high-end theories in physics and make something useful. We’re exploring the possibility of making topological quantum computers for the next 100 years.”

UCI associate professor of physics & astronomy Jing Xia, a corresponding author on the three studies.

This is a huge step forward in the field of quantum computers, turning what was long considered just theory into a viable and working practice. Although there is still a long way to go towards quantum computers, this new 2D compound has set scientists on a new and exciting path in exactly the right direction.

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