Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Signature of Long-Sought Particle Could Revolutionize Quantum Computing Seen by Purdue Physicist

Purdue University News (09/25/12) Elizabeth K. Gardner

Purdue University professor Leonid Rokhinson is the leader of a team that successfully demonstrated the fractional a.c. Josephson effect, a signature of Majorana fermions that could make fault-tolerant quantum computing a reality.  The particles could potentially encode quantum information in a way that addresses quantum bits' vulnerability to small disruptions in the local environment.  "Information could be stored not in the individual particles, but in their relative configuration, so that if one particle is pushed a little by a local force, it doesn't matter," Rokhinson says.  He also notes Majorana fermions are novel in their ability to retain an interaction history that can be used for quantum information encoding.  "When you swap two Majorana fermions, it leaves a mark by altering their quantum mechanical state," Rokhinson points out.  "This change in state is like a passport book full of stamps and provides a record of exactly how the particle arrived at its current destination."  University of Maryland professor Victor Yakovenko notes the observation of the fractional a.c. Josephson effect does not necessarily mean fault-tolerant quantum computing will be realized soon.  However, he says it "could open the door to a whole new field of the topological effects of quantum mechanics."

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