Christopher W. Ince of the Nanotechnology Research Foundation writes with another example of current nanofabrication technology providing tools to move toward more advanced technology.
A team of physicists from the University of Illinois have employed nanofabrication methods to observe a rare state of matter known as a ‘half-quantum vortex’. The research, led by Mr. Rafi Budakian, may prove vital in advancing the science of quantum computing. To make this observation, the researchers attached a ring of strontium ruthenium oxide (SRO) about one micron across to the tip of a micrometer-scale silicon cantilever. This ring is then subjected to magnetic fields which change the ring’s fluxoid states and allow detection of changes in current. This circulating current produces a magnetic moment and, by observing the change in frequency of the cantilever, the magnetic moment can be determined by researchers.
The reasoning behind the importance of this discovery in terms of quantum computing is explained by Professor Anothony J. Legget, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor and Center for Advanced Study Professor of Physics. One of the major hurdles in quantum computing is the problem of decoherence, which is the decay of information stored in a quantum computer due to fluctuations from the environment. According to Mr. Legget, SRO may be a suitable physical material for use of storing information in quantum computing. “A rather radical solution to the decoherence problem is to encode the quantum information nonlocally; that is, in the global topological properties of the states in question. Only a very restricted class of physical systems is appropriate for such topological quantum computing, and SRO may be one of them, provided that certain conditions are fulfilled in it. One very important such condition is precisely the existence of half-quantum vortices, as suggested by the Budakian experiment.”
Source: A to Z Nano