Chinese scientists have set a world record for the entanglement of 18 quantum bits, keeping their lead in the field of quantum computing.
The research by scientists at the University of Science and Technology of China was recently published in the academic journal, Physical Review Letters.
The manipulation of multi-particle entanglement is the core of quantum computing technology and has been the focus of international research competition, said Pan Jianwei, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a leading scientist of the study.
Many scientists believe quantum computing could in some ways dwarf the processing power of today’s supercomputers. One analogy to explain the concept of quantum computing is that it is like being able to read all the books in a library at the same time, whereas conventional computing is like having to read them one after another.
In normal silicon computer chips, data is rendered in one of two states: 0 or 1. However, in quantum computers, data could exist in both states simultaneously, holding exponentially more information.
The computing power of a quantum computer grows exponentially with the number of quantum bits that can be manipulated. This could effectively solve large computation problems that are beyond the ability of current classical computers, Pan said.
For example, a quantum computer with 50 quantum bits would be more powerful in solving quantum sampling problems than today’s fastest supercomputer.
Pan’s team has been at the forefront of global developments, achieving the first five, six, eight and 10 entangled photons in the world.
Due to the enormous potential of quantum computing, Europe and the United States are actively collaborating in their research. High-tech companies, such as Google, Microsoft and IBM, also have massive interests in quantum computing research.
In May 2017, Chinese scientists built the world’s first quantum computing machine that goes beyond the early classical — or conventional — computers, paving the way to the ultimate realization of quantum computing beating classical computers.
Pan said quantum computers could, in principle, solve certain problems faster than classical computers. Despite substantial progress in the past two decades, building quantum machines that can outperform classical computers in specific tasks — an important milestone termed “quantum supremacy” — remains a challenge.