Researchers create single-atom silicon-based quantum computer
A team of Australian engineers is claiming it has made the first working quantum bit (qubit) fashioned out of a single phosphorous atom, embedded on a conventional silicon chip.
This breakthrough stems all the way back to 1998, when Bruce Kane — then a University of New South Wales (UNSW) professor — published a research paper on the possibility of phosphorous atoms, suspended in ultra-pure silicon, being used as qubits. For 14 years, UNSW has been working on the approach — and today, it has finally turned theory into practice.
To create this quantum computer chip, the Australian engineers created a silicon transistor so small that “electrons have to travel along it one after the other.” A single phosphorous atom is then implanted into the silicon substrate, right next to the transistor. The transistor only allows electricity to flow through it if one electron from the phosphorus atom jumps to an “island” in the middle of the transistor. This is the key point: by controlling the phosphorus’s electrons, the engineers can control the flow of electricity across the transistor.
At this point, I would strongly recommend that you watch this excellent video that walks you through UNSW’s landmark discovery — but if you can’t watch it, just carry on reading.