Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A step closer to quantum nano computers

Barry sends in a very interesting article from the Edmonton Journal concerning the future of computers.

Drastically smaller and more energy efficient computers are much closer now thanks to a breakthrough by scientists at Edmonton's National Institute for Nanotechnology.

According to the article, scientists there:
  • (have) invented the world's smallest quantum dots, atom-sized devices capable of controlling electrons, using a fraction of the power of current computer technology.
This could lead to computer circuits that are 1000 time more energy efficient. Plus being 1000 times smaller than today's processors.

This efficiency is achieved by what is knows as the quantum wave effect. Present circuits are basically wires and switches that control the flow of electrons. Engineers have made these circuits are becoming smaller and smaller and are being asked to handle more and more electrons. This adds heat and effect efficiency. The new technology largely eliminates the need for electron flow and instead makes use of a wave-like phenomenon to transmit information.

Robert Wolkow, the lead scientist on this project, described a scenario in which two people are standing at opposite ends of a calm pool and one person drops a pebble in the water. A tiny wave eventually moves across the pool, sending information about the pebble to the other person. As you can see, if the pebble were an electron, it would not have to travel through a circuit to transmit information, but just create a wave that could be picked up at the end of the circuit.

By creating very small quantum dots (again the dots could be though of as pools with pebbles dropping in them) there is no need for the impracticable ultra cool temps that were previously needed. Also with ultra small dots, its much easier to control the electrons inside and make the output much more predictable.

<- complete article ->

No comments: