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Purdue, Microsoft Partner On Quantum Computing Research

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Photo: Courtesy: Purdue University

Physics and astronomy professor Michael Manfra will lead Purdue's portion of the research team.

Purdue researchers are partnering with Microsoft and scientists at three other universities around the globe to determine whether they’ve found a way to create a stable form of what’s known as “quantum computing.”

A new five-year agreement aims to build a type of system that could perform computations that are currently impossible in a short timespan, even for supercomputers.

Purdue physics and astronomy professor Michael Manfra is heading up the West Lafayette team, which will work with Microsoft scientists and university colleagues in Australia, the Netherlands and Denmark to construct, manipulate and strengthen tiny building blocks of information called “topological qubits.”

“The real win that topological quantum computing suggests is that if you devise your system in which you store your information cleverly enough, that you can make the qubit insensitive – basically deaf to the noise that’s all around it in the environment,” Manfra says.

He says that deafness is important because of what’s held quantum computing back – the ease with which it’s disturbed.

“It can interact with photons; electromagnetic fields. It can interact with vibrations of the lattice. And those interactions, what they can do is cause a decoherence of that qubit – basically cause it to lose the stored information.”

Manfra says it’s an open question whether quantum computing will ever overtake the current zeroes-and-ones system of information storing, but he says he’s interested in either proving or disproving the concept.

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