Quantum computers are the future of computing, but right now they can't do a whole lot. One group of researchers is trying to change that. Scientists from the University of Sussex have that could end up becoming more powerful than any other currently available. They've in the journal Science Advances.
Quantum computers are an attempt to take advantage of quantum mechanics to make computers many times faster. While normal computers operate in terms of bits, which can be either 0 or 1, quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits, that can be both 0 and 1 at the same time. This gives quantum computers a heavy advantage in many fields including cryptography.
However, quantum computers are extremely difficult to build and most only have a handful of qubits, not enough to perform any meaningful calculations. The new computer blueprint from the Sussex researchers is unique in that it features a modular design, allowing for an arbitrarily large number of qubits.
The team developed a number of methods to greatly simplify their quantum computer. They used trapped ions to function as qubits, which allowed the system to run at room temperature, and used microwaves and electric fields to perform computations, instead of the more common, but more complex, approach of using lasers.
The team plans to build a prototype quantum computer using their design to test its capabilities, costing at the very least $1.25 million.