Nano-Diamonds Might Lead to Quantum Computing

University of Melbourne scientists have managed to create nanometer-sized diamonds, by shooting carbon atoms into glass and the heating the glass. The diamonds’ properties may help in creating quantum computers capable of performing parallel computing tasks that cannot be carried out by conventional computers.
Professor Steven Prawer (Credit: QCV) 
Professor Steven Prawer
(Credit: QCV)

Professor Steven Prawer and a team of scientists from the University of Melbourne’s Department of Physics have managed to manufacture nano-diamonds using nothing more than a common furnace. They are now working to exploit a unique property of these nano-diamonds to create a quantum computer. 

Quantum computers make direct use of quantum mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, in order to manipulate data. In a classical (or conventional) computer, information is stored as bits. However, in a quantum computer, data is stored as qubits (quantum bits).  

 Nano sized diamond crystals (Credit: University of Melbourne)
Nano sized diamond crystals
(Credit: University of Melbourne)

Pure diamonds contain only carbon atoms and are transparent. Any impurities will usually give them a variety of colors. The impurity in these nano-diamonds is a single nitrogen atom that has ‘kicked out’ one of the carbon atoms. The nitrogen atom creates what is known as the color center, or NV center (Nitrogen Vacancy center) in a diamond. This center has a spare electron that has two possible states: it is either ‘excited’ or ‘ground’ (unexcited). Researchers at the Australian National University have shown that these two states of the electron have the potential to serve in the same manner as 1 and 0 serve as the two states in binary programming. Meaning, an analogy to the ‘true’ and ‘false’ states could be created. 

The importance of this discovery is that computing using nano-sized materials may serve as a basis for the creation of future quantum computers. As opposed to the semiconductors currently being used in computers, the new carbon-based nano-diamonds may lead to the implementation of the currently theoretical model of quantum computers. 

TFOT has covered the Graphene Paper, paper that is tougher than a diamond and lighter than most metals, and the development of a super-hard material, which is hard enough to scratch a diamond and yet fairly cheap and simple to manufacture. Another related story concerns the D-Waves Systems‘ “demonstration” of a 28-Qubit Quantum Computer. You can learn more about quantum computers in Dr. Boaz Tamir’s series of columns

More information about the Nano-sized Diamonds Project can be found here.