The quantum equivalents of classing computing blocks will be crucial to realizing the true potential of quantum computers.
Scientists have just discovered a new threat to that stability – Natural radiation!
Natural radiation is provoked from various sources, artificial and wild alike.
Cosmic rays are part of natural radiation. However, you probably wouldn’t expect concrete buildings to be part of natural radiation, though they are!
Natural radiation is around us all the time, and therefore it’s a problem for future quantum computers.
Scientists conducted a range of experiments that modified the level of natural radiation around qubits.
They managed to establish that the background buzz nudges qubits off balance in a way that prevents them from functioning as they should.
“Our study is the first to express clearly that low-level ionizing radiation in the environment degrades the performance of superconducting qubits,” stated Physicist John Orrel, from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
“These findings propose that radiation shielding will be necessary to attain long-sought performance in quantum computers of this design,” he added.
Natural radiation isn’t the only danger to stability, which is officially called coherence by scientists.
Everything from variations in temperature to electromagnetic fields can break the balance.
The team behind the study decided to examine the possible problem posed by natural radiation after experiencing issues with superconducting qubit decoherence.
They found a quantum binding known as a Cooper pair of electrons.
“The radiation cracks apart matched pairs of electrons that typically carry electric current without resistance in a superconductor,” stated Physicist Brent VanDevender.
Quantum computers are still new to most scientists, and they are challenging to keep under operating conditions and work with.
We can’t wait to see how scientists uncover the mysteries behind them!