According to the researchers, the nucleus of a phosphorus atom is an extremely weak magnet, which can point in two natural directions, either "up or down." In the quantum world, the magnet can exist in both states simulatenously - a feature known as "quantum superposition."
These natural positions are equivalent to the "zero and "one" of a binary code, as used in existing classical computers, UNSW scientists said. In this experiment, the scientists controlled the direction of the nucleus, "writing" a value onto its spin and then "reading" that value out - turning the nucleus into a functioning qubit.
The accuracy of this qubit rivals what many consider to be today's best quantum bit - a single atom in an electromagnetic trap inside a vacuum chamber, the researchers said.
"Our nuclear spin qubit operates at a similar level of accuracy but it's not in a vacuum cleaner - it's in a silicon chip and can be wired up and operated electrically like normal integrated circuits," said Morello.
"Silicon is the dominant material in the microelectronics industry, which means our qubit is more compatible with existing industry technology and is more easily scalable."
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