For a few years, scientists have been predicting that computers exploiting the quantum properties of matter will carry out computations billions of times faster than today's supercomputers. Yet the technical challenges are so daunting that such quantum computers may not be feasible for decades.
Now, researchers have developed a new, yet less exotic computing method that may be as good as quantum computing for certain tasks, such as searching databases. The method relies entirely on classical physics, say Ian Walmsley and his colleagues of the University of Rochester in New York. To convert their ideas into hardware, the Rochester scientists have built an optical device and successfully demonstrated the method.
The group reported its results at the Lasers and Electro-Optics/Quantum Electronics and Laser Science conference in Baltimore last week.