Credit cards which are completely fraud-proof and passports which cannot be forged: quantum physics could make both of these possible. This is explained by the fact that the quantum mechanical state of a particle, an atomic nucleus, for example, can be neither copied nor read out correctly without additional information which only authorised users of possible cards have. Accordingly, if a credit card were to contain a quantum memory, it would be protected against misuse. Researchers at Harvard University in Cambridge near Boston, the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching, and Caltech in Pasadena have now successfully stored a quantum state in a diamond crystal for more than a second at room temperature. The researchers now work on extending that storage time and improving their method.
Picture: The stuff that quantum memories are made of: an international team of physicists has succeeded, for the first time, in storing a quantum bit in a diamond for longer than one second at room temperature. The researchers did not use a natural diamond like the one shown here, however, neither was it cut. They produced their diamond artificially by depositing carbon containing one hundredth of a percent of the heavy carbon isotope C-13 and a small quantity of nitrogen from the gas phase onto a substrate. The diamond they obtained in this way had an edge length of a few millimetres. Copyrigt: Henrik G. Vogel / pixelio.de
Scientists from IBM and the German Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL), a joint venture of the research centre Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY in Hamburg, the Max-Planck-Society (MPG) and the University of Hamburg have built the world’s smallest magnetic data storage unit. It uses just twelve atoms per bit, the basic unit of information, and squeezes a whole byte (8 bit) into as few as 96 atoms. A modern hard drive, for comparison, still needs more than half a billion atoms per byte. The team presents the results in the weekly journal “Science“.
Picture: Antiferromagnetic order in an iron atom array revealed by spin-polarized imaging with a scanning tunneling microscope (HighRes). Credit: Sebastian Loth/CFEL
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is one of the largest international scientific experiments in the world. Located at CERN near Geneva about 100m underground this particle accelerator enables physicists to study the smallest known particles, which are the building blocks of all things. The LHC is expected to bring new knowledge about the world from the world deep within atoms to the vastness of the Universe. Now in order to celebrate the anniversary of the first hadron collisions in the LHC on 23 November 2010, an LHC exhibition at the Administrative Headquarters of the Max Planck Society at the Hofgarten in Munich provides a unique opportunity to experience this research in real time. Meet the scientists and discuss their work with them!
Picture: The ATLAS detector of LHC: ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS) is 46 meters long and 25 meters high, which makes it the largest and most elaborate particle detectors ever designed. It measures the energy of resultant particles in a collision. © CERN