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For quantum computer, add a dash of disorder

Flawed crystals could help couple light to matter

1:56pm, March 11, 2010

Embracing chaos just might help physicists build a quantum brain. A new study shows that disorder can enhance the coupling between light and matter in quantum systems, a find that could eventually lead to fast, easy-to-build quantum computers.

Quantum computers promise superfast calculations that precisely simulate the natural world (SN Online: 1/22/10), but physicists have struggled to design the brains of such machines. Some researchers have focused on designing precisely engineered materials that can trap light to harness its quantum properties. To work, scientists have thought, the crystalline structure of these materials must be flawlessly ordered — a nearly impossible task.

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