A team of Harvard scientists have succeeded in storing quantum bits of data, or qubits, at room temperature for nearly two seconds by coding them inside a diamond. This is an increase of nearly six orders of magnitude over the life span of earlier systems, which in order to stabilize the data, relied on sophisticated machines to cool the qubits to temperatures near absolute zero. Working with a British-based artificial diamond manufacturer, the Harvard team used a special diamond composed of 99.99% carbon-12 atoms, which contain no spin. The remaining .01% carbon-13 atoms, which do contain spin, were used by the researchers to store and read qubits.
What’s the Big Idea?
The Harvard team says no theoretical barriers remain to storing quantum data for longer periods of time and that technological advances will allow qubits to be stored and read for hours, at which point many real-world applications become possible. “In addition to a practical quantum computer, [the team] envisions the system being used in applications that include ‘quantum cash’ (a payment system for bank transactions and credit cards that relies on the coding of quantum bits to thwart counterfeiters) and quantum networks (a highly secure communications method that uses quantum bits to transmit data).”