Teleporting electrons for game of quantum ping pong

Teleporting electrons between two points on a wire is just the kind of high end juggling act that deserves some applause. And since it is also the latest nifty trick being hailed as the "first major step on the road to building a quantum computer", it is the kind of trick worth mentioning here.

Teleporting electrons between two points on a wire is just the kind of high end juggling act that deserves some applause. And since it is also the latest nifty trick being hailed as the "first major step on the road to building a quantum computer", it is the kind of trick worth mentioning here. It is certainly a double demo of a fundamental requirement of quantum computing: control of the position of a single electron.

Two groups of researchers have shown, independently, that it is possible to trap and repeatedly transport a single electron from one point on a wire to another. This extremely fine control over the behaviour of the most fundamental part of electronics has been described as “an enabling technology” for quantum computers, particularly in transferring qubits between the processor and memory on a quantum chip.

The scientists, based at French National Centre for Scientific Research and the University of Cambridge in the UK, report their results in two separate papers, published in Nature.

Both teams began by isolating and confining a single electron on a quantum dot. They then used sound waves to transport the electron to a second quantum dot. In France, the researchers showed that the electron could be transported within a nanosecond, while in the UK, the team zapped their electron back and forth 60 times, covering a distance (cumulative) of 250 microns.

Cosmos Magazine has more details here, while New Scientists subscribers can find out more here, in an article where Cambridge researcher Crispin Barnes describes his work as akin to playing ping pong with an electron.

Maybe we’ll see it at the next Olympics?