Microsoft: The Quest To Make Quantum Computing PossibleBy Chris Brandt, UniversityHerald Reporter
Quantum computing uses quantum mechanical phenomena where atoms are deployed to perform computing tasks but much faster and more powerful than silicon-based computers. Though it might sound too preposterous to the average mind, big tech companies believe that mankind is already at the threshold of using this and Microsoft is leading the way.
The computers we use today work using transistors that act as gates which regulate the electrons that pass through them. These 'gates' are either open or close resulting in either a zero or one binary number. In quantum computing, however, the gates are not important but the qubit where the electrons themselves carry and store the information themselves making it one and zero at the same time. If you put 300 of these qubits together, it has the ability to store more information than there are atoms in the earth. It will also make the computing process much faster than it is now.
The problem, however, is it will be difficult to control these exotic matter much more wiring them together. As much as the promise it shows, there is still no guarantee how much longer they can hold the information they carry before they are gone.
Despite the odds and the impossibilities, Microsoft refuses to budge, instead, they developed a different solution called topological qubits. According to Peter Lee, chief researcher of Microsoft, topological cubits do not use the properties of electrons but the order of another exotic particle called Majorana fermions or anyons.
The existence of Majorana fermions was first proposed by the physicist Ettore Majorana in 1937. As opposed to the current carriers of quantum bits, the Majorana are not easily destroyed by magnetic interferences or disturbances.
Lee further explains it saying that if you imagine these anyons with threads through them, they braid that thread as they orbit around one another and create a pattern, which then encodes the quantum computing. He added that the movement created by these fermions as they orbit around one another can be noisy and messy; nevertheless, they are orbiting in a clear pattern.
Microsoft has put in a lot of money into the research of quantum computing. However, they still cannot put a date as to when the first quantum computers will become a reality. As Lee said, there are times he feels they could do it tomorrow and there are times he thinks they are still very far from it. However, as their research on quantum computing continues, he is positive that they are already at its threshold.