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Dartmouth Takes a Quantum Step | GradSchoolShopper

Dartmouth Takes a Quantum Step

Ever since being thought up by Benioff and Feynman in the 1980s, quantum computing has been a sort of holy grail in physics. Its potential is astounding, but so are the technical limitations. That’s where Dartmouth College and the University of Sydney come in.

 

As (nearly) everybody knows, computers need reliable memory to function. Without it, a computer wouldn’t be able to do… well, anything. The memory’s read/write speed, meanwhile, has to keep up with the processor, all while being completely controllable.

The problem is that the subatomic particles used in quantum computing act like six-year-olds with ADHD. This makes them incredibly energetic, and thus extraordinarily powerful, but awfully difficult to control reliably. Memory states may remain for only a fraction of a second before data is lost. One second they’re spinning this way, the next second they’re spinning that way, the next they’re running after a squirrel and have forgotten half of what you said to them. Or all of it.

Photo: Flickr/jurvetson (cc).

Photo: Flickr/jurvetson (cc).

Researchers from the University of Sydney and the Dartmouth College Department of Physics and Astronomy appear to have fixed this problem using dynamic decoupling. The short version: DD is a technique in which the data is  amplified to such a degree that errors cancel out.

The technique has worked so well that data has been retained not for a split second but for hours – essentially turning our inattentive six-year-olds into incredibly knowledgeable physics professors. Just sayin’.

Interested in studying quantum computing as a grad student? Take a look at Dartmouth College‘s profile on GradSchoolShopper.com and take a quantum leap into your own future!

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Advice to Students

The best thing you can do as an undergraduate or early graduate student is get as broad a training as possible, in both science and communications.
Communication skills are extremely important, especially to aspiring scientists. Scientific research is funded as a public good by the federal government and various institutions. To get this funding you must compete with many others who want the same funding.
— Dr. Fred Dylla, Executive Director and CEO of the American Institute of Physics, Podcast Episode #4

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