Californian researchers have combined quantum memory with a quantum processor for the first time, making a quantum chip based on von Neumann architecture. The chip needs to be cooled to within a whisker of absolute zero to work, but the work has brought programmable quantum RAM - a "key component" of a future quantum computer – into the real world.
The University of California Santa Barbara explains in its press announcement that the architecture is based on superconducting quantum circuits. The integrated circuit comprises two qubits, a quantum communication bus, two bits of memory and a resetting register.
UCSB researcher, Matteo Mariantoni explains the basic principles of quantum computing in a useful video posted at the bottom of the press release. A qubit, the quantum equivalent of a classical transistor, can exists as a zero and a one, both simultaneously, or any mixture of both zero and one.
Mariantoni adds: "In our new UCSB architecture we have explored the possibility of writing quantum information to memory, while simultaneously performing other quantum calculations.”
In the video he goes on to say that this is a very exciting time to be a quantum physicist, because the work he is doing in on the border of physics research and an emerging field of quantum engineering.
As researchers, he says, he and his colleagues can understand how qubits work, but now they can also build something that is akin to a classical computer, capable of operating quantum software. This is the point at which industry is likely to get involved, and make investments in developing a large scale quantum computer.
So, watch this space.