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A cavity containing a squeezed vacuum, developed at the California Institute of Tech in separate research. The University of Calgary and Tokyo Institute of Technology research uses a similar squeezed vaccum to store "less than nothing".  (Source: California Institute of Technology)
"Less than nothing" is the new zero

The world of quantum mechanics is filled with outlandish physical phenomena --  including everything from perpetual motion to teleportation.  Scientists have sought, in recent years, to exploit these phenomena to create the ultimate computing machine.  Such a computer, which would put even Intel or IBM's mightiest system to shame, holds the promise to solve certain types of very difficult, but very important problems. 

Scientists have made large advances including creating cables for quantum computers, developing quantum encryption techniques, and the development of the first commercial quantum computer by D-Wave, co-developed by NASA.  Much of the research into quantum computing involves using photons to store and convey information inside advanced computer systems.  However, light on an atomic scale behaves rather "spooky." 

On a silicon transistor scale, for the most part "on" or 1 means charged, and "off" or 0 means no charge.  On a quantum scale, on still means a charge, but "off" or absence of light still produces a lesser amount of atomic noise.  In other words, even if a photon is turned off, the quantum computer will still read a small amount of noise, disrupting measurements.

Scientists, after puzzling over this complex problem have come up with an outlandish solution -- creating a "squeezed vacuum" a space which has less than nothing, less noise than a space with no light.  Scientists managed to store and retrieve this "perfect dark" quantum zero.  The special vacuum is created by a laser beam directed through special crystals.  Squeezed vacuums have previously been created but not stored.  Typical uses are gravity wave detection. 

Teams of physicists at the University of Calgary and the Tokyo Institute of Technology independently demonstrated that a squeezed vacuum can be stored in a collection of rubidium atoms and retrieved when necessary.  The work appears in today's edition of the physics journal Physical Review Letters.  In it the researchers detail how they verified that the space remained squeezed when retrieved, compared to no light.

Alexander Lvovsky, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Canada Research Chair and leader of the University of Calgary's Quantum Information Technology research group, stated, "Memory for light has been a big challenge in physics for many years and I am very pleased we have been able to bring it one step further.  It is important not only for quantum computers, but may also provide new ways to make unbreakable codes for transmitting sensitive information."

The team's research followed Harvard-Smithsonian scientists' 2001 work that slowed light to a stop and physicist Alexander Kuzmich of the Georgia Institute of Technology's work, which led to a successful 2006 effort to store and retrieve a photon.  Kuzmich was enthusiastic about the new developments and said that the ability to squeeze space closer to an absolute zero in terms of noise promises to significantly aid in the development of quantum networks.  He marveled at the work and said of the progress, "It's a real technical achievement."

Lvovsky’s team next hopes to develop storage methods for more complex forms of light, such as entangled light, which can lead to exotic new uses and improvements in quantum computing.  

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By General Disturbance on 3/8/2008 2:04:39 PM , Rating: 0
Well, I guess I'm at least glad to see Levovsky and his cronies are doing something with the lab space they stole from us...third floor Science B used to be all astrophysics until the dept discovered you could get more gov't grant money, easier, by saying you're working on QUANTUM COMPUTING!! (with a big booming echoing voice...seriously go record your voice on your pc, edit the bass level and add echo to it, get a huge speaker and stick it out your window and blast it full'll have a gov't grant and university office space in no time!)

Now I'm stuck in a windowless office on the 5'th floor, because all I'm doing is helping India with it first space telescope...big deal! :\

RE: jerks
By Davelo on 3/8/2008 7:25:36 PM , Rating: 2
I was kind of thinking the same thing. If what they claim is true and can be empirically verified, then I could imagine many applications that boggle the mind. Quantum computing would only be one of them.

RE: jerks
By geddarkstorm on 3/8/2008 7:42:29 PM , Rating: 2
Zero Point Modules, baby! Oh wait.. too much Stargate for me.

RE: jerks
By Ringold on 3/9/2008 5:19:15 AM , Rating: 2
Speaking of Stargate, and Star Trek, now we know what all those damn crystals do in all their computers.

And here I was thinking that colored glass is just cheap and easy for the props department to make!

That said, I still dont understand how taking Crystal A in Slot B and moving it to Slot C somehow magically repairs all major ship systems.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher

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