The US Airforce wants to build a holographic quantum computer, and rather than spending a whole chunk of time going right back to fundamentals, it is working on ways of doing it with off-the-shelf parts and panes of glass.
The researchers set out their plans in a paper published in Physics ArXiv.
They explain that "photons offer great promise in quantum information processing (QIP) given their robustness to decoherence". But this source of strength is also their biggest weakness, since such weak interaction with the rest of the world makes it hard to process the information they contain.
Despite this, they can be useful in building a quantum computer, especially if the fragile interferometers used to process their contained data could be rendered more permanent.
This is where the holograms come in. The researchers suggest it would be possible to encode any quantum algorithm in a single hologram, and they’ve determined how thick the holographic material needs to be.
The MIT blog Technology Review argues that the approach has two significant drawbacks: it is not scalable, and the devices are not reprogrammable.
The blog continues: "Given these limitations it's easy to dismiss this idea as just another of a growing number of exotic forms of quantum computation that are gathering dust on (metaphorical) library shelves.
"But there are a number of emerging applications for the kind of reliable but low-dimensional quantum computations that these devices could perform. These include quantum memory buses, quantum error correction circuits and quantum key distribution relays."
No on has hit on the perfect solution to these problems yet, but this approach has the benefit of being buildable with existing technology and components, Technology Review contends.
The researchers themselves say "we are well along in understanding these devices from a theoretical prospective; however, we are at the very beginning experimentally".
In other words, watch this space.