An international team of researchers has shown that it can control the quantum state of a single electron in a silicon transistor–even putting the electron in two places at once. Their discovery could help pave the way toward a practical quantum computer.
Quantum computers take advantage of the strange properties of subatomic particles to perform certain types of calculations much faster than classical computers can. Researchers are exploring a host of different approaches to quantum computing, and some have even built primitive quantum circuits that can perform calculations. But practical quantum computing would require the ability to manufacture devices with millions of quantum circuits–rather than the 12 or 16 achievable now–that can be integrated with more-conventional electronics.