ACM News 17/12/2012
University of New South Wales (UNSW) professor Andrew Dzurak predicts that commercially available quantum computing will in arrive two decades, while demonstrations of complex modeling via quantum computing will emerge within 10 years. Dzurak expects quantum computing will have major implications for solving complex problems such as modeling and simulation. He says over the past few years silicon has exceeded scientists’ hopes as a material for quantum computers, thanks to its ability to keep quantum bits viable for several minutes, which in computing time represents a lifetime. Dzurak says atoms can have diverse isotopes corresponding to the different numbers of neutrons in their nucleus, and it is critical that the silicon have no nuclear spins in it. Rather, the spin is provided by insertion of a phosphorus atom that serves as a quantum bit. Purification of the silicon into the silicon 28 isotope produces material that can extend the spin decoherence time into minutes, according to Dzurak. He reports that UNSW has acquired “some of the highest purity silicon 28 in the world” from which to fashion new quantum bit devices in the hope that dramatic improvements in error rates can be demonstrated within the next six to 12 months.