By analogy, a traditional qubit would be like using a string to form a 0 or 1 shape on a tabletop.
We think of data storage as a modern problem, but even ancient civilizations kept records. While most of the world used stone tablets or other data carriers that did not survive the centuries, the Incas used a solution called the quipu, which encoded numerical data into strings using knots. Now this ancient system of recording numbers has inspired a new way of encoding qubits in quantum computers. With kipu, the knots on the string represent a number. By analogy, a traditional qubit would be like using a string to form a 0 or 1 shape on a table top. A breeze or other “noise” would easily disturb the equation. But the knots stay tied even if you pick up the cords and move them. The new qubits work in the same way, they encode the data in the topology of the material. In practice, the Quantinuum H1 processor uses 10 ytterbium ions trapped with a laser pulsed in a Fibonacci sequence. If we consider the traditional qubit (the state of the qubit) as a one-dimensional thing, then this new system behaves like a two-dimensional system, where the second dimension is time. This is easier to build than traditional 2D quantum structures, but has at least some of the same inherent fault tolerance. The article about this was published by the journal Nature . Although the technique is exotic, it makes you realize that quantum computers still have a lot to work out, and just as today’s traditional computers don’t use tubes, cores and mercury delay wires, tomorrow’s quantum computers will likely look very different from today’s. This is not the first time they have tried to create topological qubits, but the last time we noticed such an effort, there were experimental problems – Hackaday writes with some skepticism.
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