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A semiconductor developed by UB engineers provides a novel way to trap, detect and manipulate electron spin.   (Source: University at Buffalo)
Semiconductor can trap, detect and manipulate electron spin at 20 kelvins

Quantum computing is still out of reach for most mainstream industries, but continuing research in the field is making the technology more accessible. A team of engineers at the University at Buffalo have developed a semiconductor that can trap, detect and manipulate the single spin of an electron.

"The task of manipulating the spin of single electrons is a hugely daunting technological challenge that has the potential, if overcome, to open up new paradigms of nanoelectronics," said Jonathan P. Bird, Ph.D., professor of electrical engineering in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and principal investigator on the project.

The research paper (PDF) detailing the advancement is featured in this week’s Physical Review Letters. "In this paper, we demonstrate a novel approach that allows us to easily trap, manipulate and detect single-electron spins, in a scheme that has the potential to be scaled up in the future into dense, integrated circuits," added Bird.

The system developed at UB steers the electrical current in a semiconductor by applying voltage to nanoscale gaps on select metallic gates that are fabricated on its surface.

"As we increase the charge on the gates, this begins to close that gap," explained Bird, "allowing fewer and fewer electrons to pass through until eventually they all stop going through. As we squeeze off the channel, just before the gap closes completely, we can detect the trapping of the last electron in the channel and its spin."

"It was recently predicted that it should be possible to use these constrictions to trap single spins," added Bird. "In this paper, we provide evidence that such trapping can, indeed, be achieved with quantum point contacts and that it may also be manipulated electrically."

While prior efforts to trap a single spin using nanoscale semiconductors were proven successful, they had to operate at extremely cold temperatures – below 1 kelvin. According to UB researchers, cooling apparatus required to lower the temperature to such levels is not easily attainable. On the other hand, the device developed at UB is capable of performing at 20 kelvins – a temperature that the researchers believe makes their technology a more viable alternative.

Other recent advancements in quantum computing include the discovery of a "hidden" order in a quantum spin liquid, paving the way for a large number of electron spins can be coupled together to yield a quantum mechanical state with no classical analog. Scientists were also able to use pulses of light to accelerate quantum computers. Most recently, scientists at the NIST have successfully transferred data from one qubit to another by means of a microfabricated aluminum cable.

Such advancements are slowly but steadily leading up to the commercialization of quantum computer technology. Canadian firm D-Wave Systems unveiled and demonstrated earlier this year its own quantum computing technology that it aims for the commercial market – though D-Wave’s claims were met with some scepticism from the scientific community.



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Awesome chip
By Quiksel on 10/18/2007 10:43:14 AM , Rating: 2
The caption pic reminds me of the old cache chips I used to put into my 386.

I love how good design is never out of style. ;)

I miss my 386 :(




RE: Awesome chip
By Screwballl on 10/18/2007 11:41:37 AM , Rating: 2
I have a few in my garage if you are interested? They haven't been used in at least 6-8 years.
I am getting ready to toss them to the curb for pickup in a few weeks


RE: Awesome chip
By Quiksel on 10/18/2007 12:15:07 PM , Rating: 3
To demonstrate how geek sentimental I am, I still have the motherboard from the first 386 I had, complete with processor (those old days where the chip hardly made any heat were the DAYS!) and 4MB RAM...

I hated to do it, but I did get rid of the first computer my grandma taught me on (a super-old IBM 8088 with dual 5 1/4" drives, no HDD)... I think I'll regret that the rest of my life. :( It was my boat anchor computer... I will always miss not having it around just to look at how far we've come in 20 years.

The label of that computer was "IBMitchell" (the label had whitespace on the right hand side, so we filled it in with our last name, always a good story!)... Ahh, the memories.


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