Large-scale, practical quantum computers always seem to be just around the corner, with small research steps edging them tantalizingly closer. Now a large leap towards their practical realization. Scientists at the University of Sussex claim to have produced a method to use voltage control over ions instead of lasers in quantum logic gates, thereby removing one of the largest stumbling blocks to producing a workable, full-sized system.
Simple quantum computers have been around for a while now. IBM, for example, made a small quantum processor with a few quantum bits (qubit) available online, while Bristol University came up with a basic two-qubit system that was even able to do some useful work. But these tiny machines are difficult to scale up practically because each of the trapped ions used as quantum bits in the system are aligned using a separate laser beam for each one, so building a full-size computer with billions of qubits would potentially take just as many individual lasers to control them.
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