Experimental physicists are building a quantum computer that can read beyond binary systems

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Researchers at the University of Innsbruck have built a quantum computer that operates a complex system of quantum digits as opposed to traditional qubits. For those who may not know how a quantum computer works, qubits are simply quantum bits, where the bits are binary digits which can contain either of two values: 0 or 1, which correspond respectively to the electrical values ​​of off and on. Bits are used in every computer to store information, often in a group of eight (called a “byte”) or more (kilobyte, gigabyte, etc.), and rely on binary information to hold the necessary computational data . Hence, 8-bit to 64-bit processors.

The aforementioned qubits are more or less the same thing except they go beyond ones and zeros and are replicated through quantum technology for much more advanced purposes and complex workloads, such as machine learning algorithms, sophisticated cryptography and molecular modeling, particle physics, and much more. Using the scientists’ methodology, their quantum computer takes these qubits one step further by implementing calculations using quantum digits as opposed to qubits. These “qudits” rightly thus allow the quantum computer seemingly unlimited computing power – at least by our own current standards.

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Traditional quantum computers have the ability to access additional quantum states in workloads, but typically only use two for specific purposes. Going beyond this level generally generates less reliable data, but the Innsbruck researchers have devised a way for the quantum computer to take advantage of all these additional levels by using a computer storing information in trapped calcium atoms existing in eight different states. Essentially, the researchers showed that their quantum computer could use its full power without breaking a sweat.

The scientists published their findings in Natural Physics today, July 21, under the title “A qudit universal quantum processor with trapped ions.” Their collective research highlights the potential of quantum computing, where future workloads theoretically produce data on problems already expressed in audits. This means quantum computing approaches will be much more complex and foolproof, finding use cases in areas such as astrophysics, artificial intelligence and more.

“Working with more than zeros and ones is very natural,” explains lead researcher Martin Ringbauer, an experimental physicist at the University of Innsbruck, “not only for the quantum computer but also for its applications, allowing us to unleash the true potential of quantum systems.”

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