After cloud computing, there’s a new buzzword hitting the minds of tech enthusiasts – Quantum Computing. The technology, although in its infancy, holds great promises in future. Therefore, experiments are being conducted by researchers to exploit the machine’s full potential. Quantum computing, researchers claims could solve unimaginably large and complex computer problems that classical computing could never crack.
There are some problems so difficult, so incredibly vast, that even if all the computers in the world worked collectively they would fail to solve it. Quantum computers for this reason are being developed to try and solve problems quicker than classical computers such as tablets, smartphones and laptops.
This rationale has prodded Microsoft to develop a quantum computing research facility – ‘Station Q‘ on the campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. The facility attracts notables from mathematics, science and computer science – theorists and experimentalists alike.
The group at Station Q believes quantum computing is an interface on three different disciplines – mathematics, physics, and computer science. Hence, experts from diverse fields of science are united under one umbrella – Station Q.
Microsoft Research Station Q page shows Michael Freedman, Technical Fellow, as saying,
“Our lab combines researchers, theorists, and experimentalists from mathematics, physics, and computer science, and we partner with academic and research institutions around the globe. Quantum computing is a field of research that applies the principles of quantum physics and new directions in materials science to building a new type of computer that uses quantum effects in computation.”
They further add that quantum computational operations are executed on a very small number of qubits. To be precise, Quantum computers run on quantum bits, or qubits. Because of the bizarre properties of a quantum state, like superposition, a qubit can be a 1 or a 0 – or it can operate as both a 1 and a 0 at the same time. If one qubit, as both a 1 and a 0, can do two calculations at once, then two qubits can do four, and things get exponential pretty quickly.
The challenge lies in exploring ways to apply topological effects to make qubits more robust so that there is no disturbance in passing information back and forth during a computation even if there is a loss of a single qubit. A qubit can be topologically protected by quasi-particles such as MAJORANA. Scientists are exploiting all the possibilities to show that Majoranas have topological properties and prove its existence in the first place.
The quest for quantum computing is not limited to Microsoft alone. Other technology heavyweights, like Google have also been following suit. The prospect of jumping from classical computing to quantum computing looms large.