The first quantum computer is one step closer

Princeton University researchers have made what they describe as ‘significant’ progress in developing quantum computing technology, using simple silicon-based materials.

They have developed a silicon-based device that can control quantum behaviour between electrons with a fairly high level of accuracy. The scientists are confident that this is a pioneering step towards eventually developing a quantum computer.

The study describes a process that includes a ‘gate’ that meticulously controls interactions between various electrons, so each one acts as a quantum bit of data.

The researchers say that the demonstration went nearly without a hitch. Princeton University physics professor Jason Petta stated that the minimum requirement for it to work was a two-qubit gate. He added: “The creation of this high-fidelity two-qubit gate opens the door to larger scale experiments."

Other scientists and firms have already showcased devices with 50 or more qubits, but they use much more expensive materials such as charged atoms or superconductors.

Quantum computing is increasingly attracting interest because it should be able to solve problems which remain inaccessible to ordinary computers.

The Princeton process uses two electrons within a 2-qubit silicon-based gate. The electrons are stored in a single silicon layer. Voltages are then applied via aluminium oxide wires (green and red). The result is that the electrons become trapped, which generates quantum behaviours.

One of the graduate students who was involved in the study, David Zajac, said: "This is the first demonstration of entanglement between two electron spins in silicon, a material known for providing one of the cleanest environments for electron spin states."