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Engineers to crack the 58-year-old enigma, making a quantum breakthrough

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With a team of engineers, Australia, has cracked a problem that has stood for more than half a century.

In 1961, scientist and winner of the nobel prize Nicolaas Bloembergen had been suggested that the nucleus of a single atom can be controlled by using only electric fields in it. Now, engineers at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, was successful.

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An artist’s impression of how the nanometer-scale electrode is used for the local control of the quantum state of a single nucleus in a silicon chip.
(HONOURS/Tony Melov)

“This discovery means is that we are now on a path to building quantum computers with the help of a single atom, the spins without the need of an oscillating magnetic field for their operation,” said Andrea Morello, UNSW’s scientia professor of quantum engineering, in a statement. “We are also able to make use of those cores as a very accurate sensors of electric and magnetic fields, or to answer fundamental questions in quantum science.

Quantum computing, which allows computers to manipulate the information in sophisticated ways, there has to be a more potent computing than that of the current super-computers.

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The study has been described in a paper published in the journal Nature.

The discovery was made by accident, according to the University of New South Wales, which states that the researchers were actually trying to carry out the magnetic resonance of a single atom of the chemical element antimony. “When we started the experiment, we realized that there was something wrong. The heart was acting very strange refusing to respond to certain frequencies, but with a strong response to the others,” said Dr. Vincent Mourik, a lead author of the paper, in a statement. “This puzzled us for a while, until I had a ‘eureka moment’ and realised that it was the electrical resonance rather than magnetic resonance imaging.”

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The scientists also note that the generation of magnetic fields requires large coils and high currents, the fields have been difficult to confine to a small space. Electric fields, however, can be produced at the tip of the electrode, thus allowing atoms to be easily controlled in nanoelectronic devices.

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The discovery could pave the way for a “scalable-nuclear and electron-spin-based quantum computation in silicon, which works without the need for oscillating magnetic fields, according to the paper.

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