Quantum computers need memory to perform tasks like their conventional counterparts, but it's hard to create that memory when it only takes nearby vibrating atoms to lose all their data. Scientists may have a clever solution, though: tune diamond like a guitar string. They've crafted a quantum memory system where micron-wide diamond crystal strings house impurities that are better suited to data-storing electrons. If you subject the diamond to a voltage, you can stretch it and boost the frequencies the electrons are sensitive to, much like you would tighten a guitar string to change its pitch. It'll be harder to disturb the data, in other words.
The technology lets electrons hold data for "hundreds" of nanoseconds versus "tens." That may not sound like much, but that's huge amount of time at a quantum level -- and it could be vital to processing data in quantum computing systems.
This might not stay confined to the lab, either. Harvard is patenting the technology and is "exploring" opportunities to turn it into a practical product. That may be challenging given the use of diamond and the relatively unfamiliar techniques. Should it work, though, you could see quantum computers transform from experiments into real-world machines.
- This article originally appeared on Engadget.