FSU Mag Lab touts invention of what it calls the new silicon for future computing

Magnet Lab
Semiconductor technology is close to reaching its performance limit. Over the years, processors have shrunk to their current size, with the components of a computer chip more than 1,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair.
Moore's Law
At those very small scales, quantum effects behaviors in matter that occur at the atomic and subatomic levels can start playing a role. By exploiting those behaviors, scientists hope to take computing to the next level. Recently invented material at the FSU Mag Lab could be to computers of the future what silicon is to the computers of today. The material, a compound made from the elements potassium, niobium and oxygen, along with chromium ions, could provide a technological breakthrough that leads to the development of new quantum computing technologies.
Compound made from the elements potassium, niobium and oxygen, along with chromium ions
In current computers, the basic unit of information is the "bit," which can have a value of 0 or 1. In quantum computers, which currently exist only in theory, the basic unit is the "qubit" (short for quantum bit). A qubit can have not only a value of 0 or 1, but also all kinds of combinations of 0 and 1, including 0 and 1 at the same time, meaning quantum computers could perform certain kinds of calculations much more effectively than current ones. Quantum computers would harness the power of atoms and molecules to perform memory and processing tasks on a scale far beyond those of current computers.

Saritha Nellutla
"The field of quantum information technology is in its infancy, and our work is another step forward in this fascinating field," said Saritha Nellutla - a postdoctoral associate at the mag lab and lead author of the paper - Physical Review Letters - PRL 99 - 137601 - 2007. How scientists realize the promise of the theoretical qubit is not clear. Various designs and paths have been proposed, and one very promising idea is to use tiny magnetic fields, called "spins." Spins are associated with electrons and various atomic nuclei. FSU mag lab scientists used high magnetic fields and microwave radiation to "operate" on the spins in the new material they developed to get an indication of how long the spins could be controlled.

Based on their experiments, the material could enable 500 operations in 10 microseconds before losing its ability to retain information, making it a good candidate for a qubit.

Naresh Dalal
Putting this spin to work would usher in a technological revolution, because the spin state of an electron, in addition to its charge, could be used to carry, manipulate and store information. "This material is very promising," said Naresh Dalal - a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at FSU and one of the paper's authors. "But additional synthetic and magnetic characterization work is needed before it could be made suitable for use in a device." Dalal also serves as an adviser to FSU chemistry graduate student Mekhala Pati, who invented the new material.

Cisco researcher - Farzam Toudeh-Fallah, authored Optical and Quantum Switching Challenges (PPT - 490 KB). What potential impact could quantum technology have in store for Cisco?

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