Michigan Prof Pushes Quantum Computing, Code Breaking

University of Michigan researchers are working on new optical technology that could lead to the faster development of quantum computers and ultimately to tougher data security techniques and faster encryption cracking.

The researchers, led by Duncan Steel, a professor of computer science at the University of Michigan and faculty from the University of California, San Diego and the Naval Research Lab, used pulses of light to create interactions in quantum dots--particles so small that the addition or subtraction of electrons changes their properties.

The team found they could control the frequency and phase shifts in the optical network, which is crucial to powering a quantum computer, Steel said. The arrival of quantum computers could crack within seconds difficult encryption that might take today's computers 20 years to solve.  

Steel said the secret of quantum computing is unprecedented multitasking. "Quantum computers are capable of massive parallel computations," Steel said. "That's why these machines are so fast."

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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