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Scientists use pulses of light to dramatically accelerate quantum computers

Quantum computers are known for being able to solve complex problems in far less time than traditional computers. Cracking encryptions could be one area in which quantum computers excel.

By using pulses of light to dramatically accelerate quantum computers, University of Michigan researchers said that they have made strides in technology that could foil national and personal security threats. It's a leap, they say, that could lead to tougher protections of information and quicker deciphering of hackers' encryption codes.

Optically driven quantum computers can crack highly encrypted codes in seconds. The fastest of today's desktop computers would require 20 years.

The researchers used short, coherent pulses of light to create light-matter interactions in quantum dots — particles so small that the addition or deletion of electrons changes their properties. They found they could control the frequency and phase shifts in the optical network, which is crucial in powering an optically driven quantum computer, noted researcher Duncan Steel.

"Quantum computers are capable of massive parallel computations," Steel said. "That's why these machines are so fast."

"We're particularly excited about our findings because they show that we can achieve these results by using quantum dots and readily available, relatively inexpensive optical telecommunications technology to drive quantum computers," Steel added. "Quantum dots replace transistors in these computers, and our results show that it only takes a few billionths of a watt to drive it."

The paper on the results of this research, "Coherent Optical Spectroscopy of a Strongly Driven Quantum Dot," appears in the August 17 issue of Science.





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