The science and technology world has been murmuring about the quantum computers for years. The devices, on the other hand, are not affecting our lives in any case. The Quantum systems are likely to flawlessly encrypt data while helping us in making a sense of the huge amount of data that we have already collected and has helped to solve even the most complex problems that even the most powerful supercomputers can not; such as the weather prediction and medical diagnostics.
That indefinite quantum future a step closer this November- when one of the top-tier journals published two papers that have showcased the most advanced quantum system ever.
If you are still unaware of what quantum computers are, what it does, or what it could do for you, don’t worry! People at Futurism recently spoke with a physics professor at Harvard University and the senior author of one of those papers, – Mikhail Lukin, about the latest state of quantum computing, when we can have the technology on our desks or on our phones, or what it would take for that to happen.
However, the interview has been edited a little for the clarity and brevity.
Futurism: first, can you give me a simple explanation for how quantum computing works?
Mikhail Lukin: Let’s start with how the classical computers used to work. In classical computers, you formulate any problem you want to solve in the form of some input, that is basically considered as a stream of 0s and 1s. When you want to do some calculation, you basically create a certain set of rules depending on how this stream should actually move. That’s the process of calculation — addition, multiplication, whatever it can be.
The idea of quantum computers is to basically make use of rules of the quantum mechanics to process information. It’s pretty easy to understand how this can be so powerful. In classical computers, you give me a certain input, I put it on my computer, I give you an output. But if our hardware was quantum mechanical, rather than just sequentially providing some input and reading out the answers, I could prepare the computer register in the quantum superpositions of many various kinds of inputs.
This means that if I then take this superposition state and process it using the laws of quantum mechanics, I can process a lot of inputs at once. It could be potentially an exponential speedup, compared to the classical programs.
Futurism: What does a quantum computer look like?
Mikhail Lukin: If you were to walk into a room with our quantum machine in it you would see a vacuum cell or tube and a bunch of lasers that shines into it. Inside we have a very low density of a certain atom. We use lasers to slow down the atomic motion very close to absolute zero, that is called as laser cooling.
Futurism: Could this technology be scaled down to the size of a phone, or something roughly compact at some point?
Mikhail Lukin: That is not out of the question. There are ways to package it so that it can actually become portable and potentially can be reduced enough maybe not to the point of a mobile phone, but perhaps a desktop computer. But that cannot be done right now.
Futurism: Do you think, like classical computers, quantum computers will make the shift from just scientific discoveries to the average user in about 30 years?
Mikhail Lukin: The answer is yes, but why 30 years? It could happen much sooner.
Looking to read more about the interview? Read it here.