Quantum computers promise to be fantastically
fast for solving certain problems, including code breaking that would render
today's computer security useless.
The trouble with tapping the traits of particles like atoms and
electrons to compute, however, is that they are notoriously difficult to
One solution is to bring quantum mechanical behavior into a larger
Researchers from the University of Maryland have moved this approach
a step forward by entangling a pair of large quantum bits that were spaced
nearly a millimeter apart. Entanglement is a weird quantum property that
will allow quantum computers to simultaneously check every possible answer
to a problem. Entanglement links a pair of qubits, the building blocks of
quantum computers, so that when a logic operation is performed on one, the
other changes as well, regardless of the distance between them.
The researchers' prototype entangled qubits were superconducting
circuits containing billions of electrons acting as one giant particle.
The qubits were 700 microns apart -- a vast expanse by quantum standards,
and several hundred times further apart than previous chip-based entanglement
Researchers generally agree that practical quantum computers are
least two decades away. The work appeared in the May 15, 2003 issue of Science.
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