Computing breakthrough could elevate security to unprecedented levels

Aug 16, 2007

By using pulses of light to dramatically accelerate quantum computers, University of Michigan researchers 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.

A new paper on the results of this research, "Coherent Optical Spectroscopy of a Strongly Driven Quantum Dot," appears in the Aug. 17 issue of Science. Duncan Steel, the Robert J. Hiller Professor at Michigan Engineering's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Department of Physics, is one of the lead authors of the paper. Faculty from the University of California-San Diego and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., also contributed.

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, Steel said.

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

Part of what makes quantum computers so fast is that they are multitask masters.

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

And the technology the researchers used to power them in this study is relatively cheap.

"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 said. "Quantum dots replace transistors in these computers, and our results show that it only takes a few billionths of a watt to drive it."

U-M researchers are using quantum dot systems to pave the way for numerous quantum level applications, such as quantum dot dressed state lasers, optical modulators and quantum logic devices.

This discovery in quantum dot spectroscopy is an important stepping stone to building a quantum computer for the future. Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction between light and matter.

Source: University of Michigan

Explore further: Experiment with speeding ions verifies relativistic time dilation to new level of precision

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Quantum mechanics to charge your laptop?

Sep 18, 2014

Top scientists from UC Berkeley and MIT found the expertise they lacked at FIU. They invited Sakhrat Khizroev, a professor with appointments in both medicine and engineering, to help them conduct research ...

Making quantum dots glow brighter

Sep 16, 2014

Researchers from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and the University of Oklahoma have found a new way to control the properties of quantum dots, those tiny chunks of semiconductor material that glow ...

For electronics beyond silicon, a new contender emerges

Sep 16, 2014

Silicon has few serious competitors as the material of choice in the electronics industry. Yet transistors, the switchable valves that control the flow of electrons in a circuit, cannot simply keep shrinking ...

Recommended for you

How Paramecium protozoa claw their way to the top

Sep 19, 2014

The ability to swim upwards – towards the sun and food supplies – is vital for many aquatic microorganisms. Exactly how they are able to differentiate between above and below in often murky waters is ...

User comments : 0