Monday, September 16, 2019

Physicists Discover a New Phase of Matter

Article Written By: Jensen Lawrence


The three most common states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas) have been known to humans for as long as we have been able to observe them. Then, as science began to progress, we began discovering new states of matter that are infrequently, or even never, observed in nature. These include common states such as plasma, and much more exotic states such as Bose-Einstein condensates and superconductors. This list of exotic states continues to grow, with its most recent addition being topological superconductivity.

Although the quest for new, more exotic states of matter may seem like nothing more than an investigation into how strange nature can be, topological superconductivity has important implications for our future. In their paper, Mayer et al. report that this new state could increase storage in electronic devices, and more importantly, improve quantum computing.

Quantum computers are of such interest because they can perform calculations far faster than the computers of today. Currently, computers operate fundamentally on digital bits, which consist of binary inputs 0 or 1, to execute commands, complete tasks, and run calculations. However, quantum computers operate instead on qubits, quantum systems which are capable of taking on any value between 0 and 1, significantly decreasing calculation time.

The study focused on what are known as Majorana fermions, which are of particular interest to quantum information researchers because they can store quantum information in such a way that it is shielded from any environmental interference. However, there was no known substance that could successfully contain these particles for actual use, until the recent discovery of topological superconductivity.

Due to its ability to host Majorana fermions, topological superconductivity shows promise for fault-tolerant quantum computing. This would allow qubits to store information while providing that state the ability to be manipulated without causing error. The information encoded by each qubit can now be protected from errors that arise either from interactions with the surrounding environment, or from interactions within the computer. This discovery will have important implications for our future, as the age of quantum computing will soon be upon us.

Read the research paper here:

No comments:
Write comments