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U of Michigan creates first Quantum Microchip 321

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the tiny-powerhouses dept.
zigziggityzoo writes "According to this article, The University of Michigan has created the first Quantum Microchip, which could eventually lead to the first instance of Quantum Computing ever." The bad news? We won't be seeing any notebooks or handhelds with quantum chips in the near future.
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U of Michigan creates first Quantum Microchip

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  • Measurement (Score:4, Funny)

    by Bob Gelumph (715872) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @06:52PM (#14459472)
    It is not a first post until someone reads it as a first post
    • by Belseth (835595) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @07:37PM (#14459782)
      If it runs Windows does that mean it can be both in a crashed state and an uncrashed state?
  • Quantum? (Score:4, Funny)

    by MoxCamel (20484) * on Thursday January 12, 2006 @06:53PM (#14459492)
    Oh boy.

    Mox

  • by KanSer (558891) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @06:53PM (#14459493)
    Imagine a beowulf cluster of these bady boys!

    (Had to, sorry.)
    • Imagine a beowulf cluster of these bady boys!

      Well. First you need a cluster of boxes and then a cluster of cats to put in those boxes...
    • " Imagine a beowulf cluster of these bady boys!"

      But if you imagined it...wouldn't that cause it to stop working?

    • But seriously, that is what most people think - "Oh boy, I'll play Half Life x10 faster with one of them quantum chips"

      The only two known algorithms at this point that will benefit from the quantum speedup are factoring(Shor's Algorithm) and searching (Grover's Algorithm). Those are important and would greatly be useful but most other applications would not run any faster on a quantum chip than they do on a regular one from it (yet). In the future a quantum processor will probably become an add-on process

  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Thursday January 12, 2006 @06:54PM (#14459496) Homepage Journal

    The bad news? We won't be seeing any notebooks or handhelds with quantum chips in the near future.

    Yeah, right. Let me introduce myself, my name is Richard and I am Vice Peon, Assistant to the High Junior Acolyte In Charge of Dustbins of the Holy Order of 8th Day Advanced Micro Devicers. Once we were few in numbers, our faith challenged at every turn by the Church of Intel. Scoffed at, most cruelly as rank copyists without an innovation to our name. After years of wandering the wilderness between iterations our faith was rewarded most gloriously! Speak not of Quantum Notbooks and Handhelds being a thing of dreams, for we know the mighty AMD will deliver.

    You'll see, you just watch! Ya betcha! Wrist devices, wearable quantum rings. Any second now. Yeah...

  • A commodore 64 the size of a grain of rice!
    Unfortunately plugging in the joystics becomes harder. ;-)
  • by slashbob22 (918040) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @06:54PM (#14459500)
    That's one small chip for man, one Quantum leap for mankind.
  • by suitepotato (863945) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @06:55PM (#14459507)
    as you might be able to know where the computer is but not what it is doing or what it is doing but not where it is at the same time...
  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @06:57PM (#14459524) Homepage
    Expect this story to be dupped again. This time, it will be the fault of their new CPU, not Slashdot.

    Finally, a dupe excuse for Slashdot!
  • 1: As a proof of concept, it's a good start. I was always rather unsure how practical all this QC stuff actually was, as although the benefits look great, the technology seems to be incredibly complex.

    2: It's a nice slap in the face for the various people who still doubt the validity of quantum theory itself. The fact that this is possible shows it's definately on the right lines.
  • by SnoopJeDi (859765) <snoopjedi@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday January 12, 2006 @07:13PM (#14459625)
    From TFA:

    Researchers believe quantum systems will be much more efficient at rock-solid cryptography and mass database searches than running the latest version of Doom.

    Any particular reason why? I mean, bits are bits, are they not? Or is this saying a game architechture couldn't take advantage of a qubit?

    The Power of Quantum Computers [wikipedia.org] is a good insight into just why this is a good system for factorization, and thus, breaking the stuffing out of encryption systems.
    • I think this statement is the same as what that IBM guy said about there being a market for just 1 or 2 computers in the world.

      I don't see why it would be better at solving 1 mathematical problem over another. Anyone who has done game programming knows that most of it is basically mathematics. Positioning, rendering, trajectory etc.

      I don't see why computing factorials would be the only use?
      • Modern games programming only uses certain mathematical operations over and over again. That's not to say that someone won't come up with an inovative new kind of game that uses the factoring of large numbers as part of its processing, of course.

        Oh, and factoring numbers is not the same as computing factorials ;)

    • by imsabbel (611519) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @07:38PM (#14459788)
      No, qbits arent bits.
      Since reading a "register" destroys the coherent stats and leads to one (of the many possible) readings, you cannot use most algorithms with quantum chips.
      There are only a handful algorithms yet that work theoretically at all (like the famous shore-algorithm to factorize numbers). As a easy guideline, the "you can calculate all possible combinations at once" idea of quantum computing is destroyed for most stuff because of the reading limitations.
      So the way to go is trying to find algorithms in which the end result of the quantum register will give a bias in the readout that will give you a hint for the properties of a large manyfold of input factors.
      • I'm sure if this becomes reasonably priced it will not be long before we develop algorithms for 3d such as resolving the shading for a large set of possible lighting conditions and then selecting the lighting condition of interest. Anything that can solve an enormously parallel math problem quickly will fast find widespread use in video applications.
    • From the very article you linked:

      The class of problems that can be efficiently solved by quantum computers is called BQP, for "bounded error, quantum, polynomial time". Quantum computers only run randomized algorithms, so BQP on quantum computers is the counterpart of BPP on classical computers.

      I don't know how much of a background you have in Computational Mathematics, but the gist of it is that the properties that make a quantum computer very, very good at things like encryption make them very, very b
    • by centie (911828) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @07:51PM (#14459866)

      The problem is that there are only a very limited number of quantum algorithms which give a significant increase in performance over classical computing. Infact, there's only really two main classes; those based on Shors quantum fourier transform and those based on Grovers quantum search. So the possibility for exponential (Shor) or quadratic (Grover) performance gains, at the moment, is only available for a very limited number of problems. Not to say that in the future someone wont develope an algorithm which allows doom to be run faster, just at the moment its not known.

      For the first replier, qubits do NOT have three states of 1, 0 and 1&0. They are a superposition of 1 and 0. Think of it like a globe with 1 at the north pole and 0 at the south, the value of the qubit can be any point on the surface of the globe. This gives an infinte number of values, not just 3.

      1. There is a factoring quantum algorithm (useful for cryptography): Shor's algorithm.
      2. There are quantum encryption techniques that can be viewed as quantum algorithms.
      3. There's a fast database search algorithm: Grover's algorithm.

      These are the three best known quantum algorithms.
    • Since all of the other answers to your ? seem a bit off, I'll take a shot at it. Qubits can be used as ordinary bits with no problem, by simply avoiding superpositions of states. The issue is a practical, not theoretical one; why would you go to all the trouble of lasers and ion traps yaddy yadda to build a 10 bit (i.e. only 10 computing elements) computer that runs at perhaps 1000 Hz, when you could easily build a chip with 10 billion transistors clocked at 100 GHz instead (ballpark figures for today's c
  • No Doom???? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by hellfire (86129)
    Will your notebook or desktop PC someday sport quantum innards? It's unlikely, at least in the immediate future. Researchers believe quantum systems will be much more efficient at rock-solid cryptography and mass database searches than running the latest version of Doom.

    NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm crushed!
  • by hurfy (735314) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @07:17PM (#14459649)
    "For example, an up-spin can represent a one, or a down-spin can represent a zero -- or the qubit can occupy both states simultaneously"

    This way windows can be working and not working at the same time.

    oh, wait.....
  • why bad news? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann.slash ... m ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday January 12, 2006 @07:18PM (#14459664) Homepage Journal
    I'm GLAD it won't happen soon! Imagine someone tapping into your SSL sessions with his quantum chip!

    Besides, i'm much more interested in optical or spin-based chips with nearly zero-power-consumption than a quantum entanglement chip.
  • Hmm. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oGMo (379) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @07:21PM (#14459675)
    Researchers believe quantum systems will be much more efficient at rock-solid cryptography and mass database searches than running the latest version of Doom.

    They have no idea what this will lead to. Remember research 50 years ago? Huge, vacuum tubes, hundreds of calculations a second (maybe). They thought the world would have maybe 5-10 computers. Who envisioned Doom, or the Internet?

    Same way with quantum computing. Right now we have very primitive experimental technology and think a few researchers might eventually benefit. I'd like to see what we're doing in 50-100 years.

    • Time will tell, but there are only 3 problems that quantum computers are (theoretically) good at:

      Integer factorization
      Discrete log problems
      Quantum physics simulations

      More problems might be found, but I don't think you'll be running "Doom" on your quantum computer because of this limitation.
      • by MSBob (307239)
        Unless you believe some theories that speculate that a brain is a quantum computer. Quackery? Well, there are peer reviewed papers on the subject.
      • by oGMo (379)
        And a regular computer is only really good at one thing: adding. Or, possibly, you could split it down to the few basic bitwise logical operators, excluding even basic arithmetic on anything larger than single binary bits.

        Of course, everything else follows---but not obviously so, when you're just starting. We're looking at the very ground level.

    • ... Remember research 50 years ago? Huge, vacuum tubes, hundreds of calculations a second (maybe). They thought the world would have maybe 5-10 computers. Who envisioned Doom, or the Internet?

      Actually, I'd say that in 1946 (yes, 60 years ago) Murray Leinster essentially predicted the internet. Although he didn't predict how it worked, he certainly predicted computers in the home searching centralized data repositories. Here's an excerpt from "A Logic Named Joe."

      You know the logics setup. You got a lo

  • by ShyGuy91284 (701108) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @07:22PM (#14459679)
    When (if) a quantum computer can eventually be made, it'll probably have more then enough power to crack many of the currently used encryption schemes. Such a big jump in computing ability (from that little I've read about quantum computing and my roommates ranting, it's that powerful) will definately present a problem for security schemes. Things may get interesting then......
    • Which is why the NSA hasn't gone public about their quantum computers yet. We'll be watching a show about it on the History channel in 15 years.

      Dan East
    • The primary consumers of cryptographic security systems are financial systems. When quantum computers are sufficiently advanced to threaten their security, they will have to invest in physically secure communications systems. Which are fortunately already reasonably inexpensive, and will only become more so with time. On the other side of things, you will no longer be able to keep secrets from the police cryptographically, so that will be a bummer.
    • As i understand it, this is pretty overrated, since the computer can have only so many quantum bits. Sure, if you had 256 such bits you could try all the possible combinations for keys of that length at once, but you could just make the key longer, say 512, to cope with it. You end up right back where you started with a exponential-time process.

      Of course, if someone doesn't KNOW such a computer exists, they might not plan for this. This is the only real advantage, unless maybe someday you have system
  • by cyberfunk2 (656339) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @07:26PM (#14459702)
    I'm sure they're doing some great work... but my chemistry tells me something a little funny about this quote:

    "The cadmium atom that has lost an electron becomes a negatively charged ion, which can then be controlled with an electrical field," said Daniel Stick, a doctoral student in the University of Michigan's physics department who participated in the work.

    Excuse me ? Generally when atoms LOSE electrons, they become POSITIVE. Quantum wierdness indeed.
  • Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @07:32PM (#14459746) Homepage
    No fair! You've changed the outcome by measuring it!
  • by MikeURL (890801) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @07:34PM (#14459764) Journal
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nf/20060112/bs_nf/40876 [yahoo.com]

    Just personal preference. I see new developments on this almost weekly in my various search agents. I think this will be one of those things that "sneaks up on" the world even though they are very steadily developing the next generation microchip. It all still looks like babysteps but we have gone from quantum theory to working prototypes pretty quickly. These reports often have a very Sci-Fi quality to them but apparently they are legit or lots of news outlets have been misled.
  • Why is stuff like this left to university departments anyway? Where's the startup companies doing research to make a quantum chip and be the next Intel/Motorolla/AMD? Speaking of the current giants, why aint they doing this research in an effort to stay ahead of their competitors? It's just fat cat compacancy and it makes my stomach churn to see no-one putting their hand up to knock them off their perch.
    • A quick search on Google would suggests that there is increasing interest in this field. How about IBM [ibm.com], as well as a start up company called D-Wave Systems [dwavesys.com] located in Vancouver, for a start.

      As for my two cents, don't bet on an up-and-comer quantum-computer-making-business "knock them [the processor giants] them of their perch". The article (in addition to previous stories) doesn't predict a quantum computer that you'll be able to buy off the shelf and use on your desktop. Perhaps a look at the curre

  • From TFA, emphasis added:
    "The cadmium atom that has lost an electron becomes a negatively charged ion, which can then be controlled with an electrical field," said Daniel Stick, a doctoral student in the University of Michigan's physics department who participated in the work.

    Maybe I'm missing something here, but basic high school chemistry says that an atom that loses an electron has an overall positive charge, which makes it a positively charged ion or a cation [wikipedia.org]...

    I'm not sure I want this guy designing my
    • It's not very nice to highlight his name. If he's designing quantum computers, he either had a dislexic moment or got misquoted. My guess is the latter.
      • I believe he was highlighting the fact that he was a doctoral student, who really should know these things. But knowing the press, I bet it was them and not him who's at fault w/ the misquote.

        In any event, it's still the press's fault for not checking what should be an obvious discrepancy in a story. But that would require the writer to have a good solid science background, which many journalists, sadly, do not.

  • by optkk (907995) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @07:42PM (#14459813) Homepage
    for the next Duke Nukem Forever.
  • This enigmatic feature of quantum mechanic...

    What is enigmatic about adding two vectors in a vector space? I can't stand the way popular science press insist on making bizarre statements about the most trivial mathematics and science in an attempt to make it more interesting. States in a quantum computer are elements of a vector space. You learn what vector spaces are in the first year of an undergraduate course in mathematics. This is baby stuff. It's hard to realise physically but the underlying ideas are

    • Re:Enigmatic? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bhaberman (898289)
      It's enigmatic because while these vectors are eigenfunctions of the Schroedinger equation, meaning that they represent a definite state, the sum of these two vectors is NOT an eigenfunction. It is weird that a particle simply walks around with a state not corresponding to any definite eigenstate. It is also weird that when you try to catch the particle in the act, the particles state collapses to that of one of the eigenstates of which it is in the superposition, with probability given by taken the scalar
    • Dammit, I had a huge in-depth reply with lots of wiki links, and I accidentally killed the tab! Well, here's a quick re-do, but I'm not going to spend as much time.

      What is enigmatic about adding two vectors in a vector space?

      Nothing about adding vectors. However - qubits are NOT vectors, they're representations of SU(2) algebra [wikipedia.org].

      States in a quantum computer are elements of a vector space. You learn what vector spaces are in the first year of an undergraduate course in mathematics. This is baby stuff

  • by ironwill96 (736883) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @08:34PM (#14460172) Homepage Journal
    I seem to recall that an article was posted on /. a few months ago about this as found here: http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/09/ 07/1241216 [slashdot.org]

    And here is the company's webpage: http://atomchip.com/_wsn/page5.html [atomchip.com]

    See! Proof that Quantum-Optical computing has already been done!

    Ok, so maybe this would be the first non-vaporware quantum chip...
  • "The cadmium atom that has lost an electron becomes a negatively charged ion, which can then be controlled with an electrical field," said Daniel Stick, a doctoral student in the University of Michigan's physics department who participated in the work.

    Last I checked, when an atom loses an electron it becomes a positively charged atom. Physics certainly has progressed since I was in college.

  • by adrianmonk (890071) on Thursday January 12, 2006 @10:03PM (#14460598)

    In a related story, after being told that U Mich now has quantum microchips working, Steve Jobs was heard saying, "Crap! FUCK! We just finished switching to Intel chips, and now THIS happens?! Now we're going to have to, I mean this will make us, I mean... DAMMIT! DAMN. IT. Stupid fucking processors -- we should've just stayed with m68k. I mean, what's the point?"

  • by redNuht (213553)
    quantum systems will be much more efficient at rock-solid cryptography and mass database searches than running the latest version of Doom.

    Not even quantum computing is fast enough for Doom 3, eh?
  • old news (Score:2, Funny)

    by le duf (615958)
    What's the big deal? Q*berts [wikipedia.org] have been sround since 1982!

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