The University of Waterloo last month announced the creation of a minuscule device – so tiny it can fit more than a million times over on a grain of sugar – that twisted and expanded neutron beams into 10-centimetre-wide doughnut shapes.
While most people are unlikely to care about the experimental manipulation of subatomic particles, for those immersed in quantum science the novel device was another step toward one of the ultimate goals in the field: to build a full-fledged, all-purpose quantum computer.
These machines would have abilities superior to the world’s best supercomputers, and they would be able to solve problems that are currently unsolvable. The global race to build one has been less of a sprint and more of a series of small but significant steps, combined with a few leaps.
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