by Jacqueline Emigh
Australian researchers could be setting the stage for a future age of super powerful quantum — or atom-based — computing with their development of a 3D hologram-enabled approach to “quantum memory for light” technology.
By manipulating the electrons in a crystal cooled to -270 degrees Celsius, scientists at Australian National University (ANU) have created a way to store information with unprecedented efficiency, accuracy, and security, according to Morgan Hedges, lead researcher.
Scientists have long predicted that silicon-based computers will ultimately be replaced by quantum computers. These new computer will exploit the power of atoms and molecules to perform some types of calculations much more rapidly.
In fact, quantum computing was initially theorized way back in 1981, when Paul Benioff, a physicist at the Argonne National Laboratory, first applied the quantum theory of physics to computers.
Although a practical quantum computer still doesn’t seem to be right around the corner, researchers have been working in this direction for about 30 years now through projects involving the manipulation and transfer of quantum information.
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Germany and the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark pioneered took a pioneering step in 2004 with their proposal to transfer the quantum state of a pulse of light on to a set of atoms. The original experiments were conducted at room temperature.
The quantum nature of the light is delicatimagese, and researchers at ANU worked on a new way of storing, manipulating, and recalling it.
“Light entering the [cooled] crystal is slowed all the way to a stop, where it remains until we let it go again. When we do let it go, we get out essentially everything that went in as a three-dimensional hologram, accurate right down to the last photon,” Hedges said in a statement.
The new method is also well suited to secure communication because information can be read only once, according to Hedges.
“Because of the inherent uncertainty in quantum mechanics, some of the information in this light will be lost the moment it is measured, making it a read-once hologram. Quantum mechanics guarantees this information can only be read once, making it perfect for secure communication,” the researcher maintained.