Scientists breakthrough with 'world's purest silicon' set to power next-gen computers

Scientists have created an ultra-pure form of silicon that may be the much-needed foundation for the next generation of computing.

1 minute & 57 seconds read time

A team of researchers has created an advanced version of silicon that could be used as the foundation for the next generation of computing.

Scientists breakthrough with 'world's purest silicon' set to power next-gen computers 6556516

The new breakthrough technology is described as an extremely pure form of silicon, the semiconductor material used in traditional computers, and has been detailed in a new study published in the journal Nature Communications Materials. According to the paper, the new form of silicon could be used to bring quantum computing to silicon-based hardware, making these powerful next-generation computers much more accessible to everyone.

A rudimentary explanation of quantum computing is as follows. Traditional computers operate by encoding in binary, 1's or 0's. A quantum computer can encode data separately and in both 1's and 0's, or what is called a qubit, superposition of both of these states. This state is called "coherence" and enables processing calculations much faster than traditional forms of encoding. However, quantum computing has its challenges, as qubits have proven to be "noisy," which means outside elements can easily interfere with the stability of the quantum state of data.

Scientists breakthrough with 'world's purest silicon' set to power next-gen computers 615165156

Researchers have found qubits can fall out of superposition with temperature changes, leading the discovery that qubits are more stable at temperatures of near absolute zero. In the event of the quantum state falling apart due to interference all information is lost.

Qubits are typically made using superconducting metals, but the team behind the study has proposed using semiconducting materials such as silicon. Unfortunately, impurities within semiconducting materials can cause decoherence during quantum computing operations. However, the team proposed creating a qubit out of silicon-28, which is described as the "world's purest silicon".

"What we've been able to do is effectively create a critical 'brick' needed to construct a silicon-based quantum computer," lead study author Richard Curry, professor of advanced electronic materials at the University of Manchester, said in a statement. "It's a crucial step to making a technology that has the potential to be transformative for humankind feasible."

If the newly proposed silicon can provide stable quantum computations it could then, in theory, be mass manufactured by semiconducting fabrication plans that already exist around the world, leading to a much faster adoption of quantum computing.

"Now that we can produce extremely pure silicon-28, our next step will be to demonstrate that we can sustain quantum coherence for many qubits simultaneously," project co-supervisor David Jamieson, professor of physics at the University of Melbourne, said in the statement. "A reliable quantum computer with just 30 qubits would exceed the power of today's supercomputers for some applications."

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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