Future 'quantum computers' will offer increased efficiency... and risks
The observations are documented this week in the online version of Nature Physics under Advance Online Publication. The title of UCF Professor Enrique del Barco’s paper is “Quantum Interference of Tunnel Trajectories between States of Different Spin Length in a Dimeric Molecular Nanogmagnet.”
Consumers, credit card companies and high-tech firms rely on cryptography to protect the transmission of sensitive information. The basis for current encryption systems is that computers would need thousands of years to factor a large number, making it very difficult to do.
However, if del Barco’s observation can be fully understood and applied, scientists may have the basis to create quantum computers -- which could easily break the most complicated encryption in a matter of hours.
Del Barco said the observation may foster the understanding of quantum tunneling of nanoscale magnetic systems, which could revolutionize the way we understand computation.
“This is very exciting,” del Barco said. “When we first observed it, we looked at each other and said, ‘That can’t be right.’ We did it again and again and we achieved the same result every time.”
According to quantum mechanics, small magnetic objects called nanomagnets can exist in two distinct states (i.e. north pole up and north pole down). They can switch their state through a phenomenon called quantum tunneling.