Science, Technology, and Current Futurism
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Basic quantum computation achieved with silicon for first time

Basic quantum computation achieved with silicon for first time | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it

So far we have had to use supercooled materials to try out ultra-fast quantum logic. Now silicon, already standard in electronics, has gained that talent.

 

The ingredients for superfast computers could be nearly in place. For the first time, researchers have demonstrated that two silicon transistors acting as quantum bits can perform a tiny calculation. Now it’s just a question of using these as the building blocks of a larger quantum computer – taking advantage of the very material that is ubiquitous in conventional electronics.


Where conventional computing uses bits, quantum computing uses qubits, which can take the values 0, 1 or various combinations of these, instead of being stuck at either 0 or 1. This means they could exponentially shrink the time it takes to solve problems, transforming fields like encryption and the search for new pharmaceuticals.


Previously qubit calculations had been made using ultra-cold superconductors, which are easier to couple together into a basic calculator – but never with user-friendly silicon. In silicon, the qubits are isolated to keep them stable, which is a barrier to making two qubits interact with each other.


Now, a team led by Andrew Dzurak of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, has achieved that feat. Their device looks at the spin of two electrons and follows instructions: if the first one is spinning in a particular direction, flip the spin of the second electron. If not, do nothing.

This is an example of a logic gate, a fundamental unit in a computer.

 

Repetition of that same humble logic by creating sequences of gates can enable more and more complex calculations. Dzurak’s team says it has patented a design for a chip containing millions of such qubits.


“This is a seminal breakthrough in the world of quantum computer development – with some caveats,” says Thomas Schenckel of the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory in California. Although easier to scale up, “silicon-based qubits are still way behind superconducting qubits”, he says.


But that doesn’t diminish the potential of the work. “Nothing beats what we can do in silicon in terms of economical scaling and large-scale integration,” Schenkel says.


Journal reference: Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature15263


Via Jocelyn Stoller, Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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High Energy Silicon Batteries Edge Closer to Market | MIT Technology Review

High Energy Silicon Batteries Edge Closer to Market | MIT Technology Review | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Amprius’s silicon-based batteries are starting to appear in electronics.
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A pair of breakthroughs in photonics could allow for faster and faster electronics

A pair of breakthroughs in photonics could allow for faster and faster electronics | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it

A pair of breakthroughs in the field of silicon photonics by researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Micron Technology Inc. could allow for the trajectory of exponential improvement in microprocessors that began nearly half a century ago—known as Moore's Law—to continue well into the future, allowing for increasingly faster electronics, from supercomputers to laptops to smartphones.

The research team, led by CU-Boulder researcher Milos Popovic, an assistant professor of electrical, computer and energy engineering, developed a new technique that allows microprocessors to use light, instead of electrical wires, to communicate with transistors on a single chip, a system that could lead to extremely energy-efficient computing and a continued skyrocketing of computing speed into the future.

 

Popovic and his colleagues created two different optical modulators—structures that detect electrical signals and translate them into optical waves—that can be fabricated within the same processes already used in industry to create today's state-of-the-art electronic microprocessors. The modulators are described in a recent issue of the journal Optics Letters.

 

First laid out in 1965, Moore's Law predicted that the size of the transistors used in microprocessors could be shrunk by half about every two years for the same production cost, allowing twice as many transistors to be placed on the same-sized silicon chip. The net effect would be a doubling of computing speed every couple of years.

 

The projection has held true until relatively recently. While transistors continue to get smaller, halving their size today no longer leads to a doubling of computing speed. That's because the limiting factor in microelectronics is now the power that's needed to keep the microprocessors running. The vast amount of electricity required to flip on and off tiny, densely packed transistors causes excessive heat buildup.

 

"The transistors will keep shrinking and they'll be able to continue giving you more and more computing performance," Popovic said. "But in order to be able to actually take advantage of that you need to enable energy-efficient communication links."


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Rob Hatfield, M.Ed.'s curator insight, October 3, 2013 9:40 PM

This is a STEM trend in the making.

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Quick-change materials break the silicon speed limit for computers

Quick-change materials break the silicon speed limit for computers | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
An alternative for increasing processing speed without increasing the number of logic devices is to increase the number of calculations which each device can perform, which is not possible using silicon, but the researchers have demonstrated that multiple calculations are possible for PCM logic/memory devices.
Sharrock's insight:

excerpt: "The intrinsic switching, or crystallization, speed of existing PCMs is about ten nanoseconds, making them suitable for replacing flash memory. By increasing speeds even further, to less than one nanosecond (as demonstrated by the Cambridge and Singapore researchers in 2012), they could one day replace computer dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), which needs to be continually refreshed, by a non-volatile PCM replacement."

 



Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-09-quick-change-materials-silicon-limit.html#jCp

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33rd Square: Silicon Photonics Breakthrough Promises To Extend Moore's Law

33rd Square: Silicon Photonics Breakthrough Promises To Extend Moore's Law | Science, Technology, and Current Futurism | Scoop.it
Researchers have developed a new technique in silicon photonics that could allow for exponential improvement in microprocessors to continue well into the future.
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