An international team of scientists believe their blueprint for a quantum computer will prove as disruptive a technology as the personal computer. Jim Drury has more.
Early quantum computer prototypes fill this lab at Sussex University. Scientists here have helped write the first practical blueprint for building a large-scale version. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR WINFRIED HENSINGER, HEAD OF THE ION QUANTUM TECHNOLOGY GROUP AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SUSSEX, SAYING: "Quantum computers really enable a whole new range of possible applications and it's very hard to predict right now what is the most powerful application. You can think of quantum computers as a similar industry revolution to conventional computers. So they're going to enable a whole new set of opportunities that you can never imagine you had before." Quantum computers are the Holy Grail for computer scientists. But finding a workable method to make one has proved elusive. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR WINFRIED HENSINGER, HEAD OF THE ION QUANTUM TECHNOLOGY GROUP AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SUSSEX, SAYING: "Traditionally people felt it would be unbelievably difficult to build a quantum computer and that is because you have to really enable these very strange quantum effects on a very large scale. So a use for a quantum computer may need millions or billions of individual bits - and traditionally people used laser beams in order to execute quantum gates....What we've done here at the University of Sussex is invented a new method where you can replace all these pairs of laser beams with voltages applied to a quantum microchip. And using this technique it is now much easier to build a large scale quantum computer." Such a computer would be the most powerful computer on Earth, capable of revolutionising industry, science and commerce. It will take two years to build a small prototype. If successful, an upscaled version potentially filling a building the width and length of a soccer pitch will follow.