Page 20 - 2012-01-20

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Quantum mechanics redefines information and its
fundamental properties. Perimeter scientists work to
understand the properties of quantum information and study which
information processing tasks are now feasible, and which are infeasible
or impossible. This includes quantum cryptography, which studies the trade-
off between information extraction and disturbance, and its applications. It
also includes research in quantum error correction, which develops methods
for protecting information against decoherence.
Postdoctoral Researcher Akimasa Miyake may have found a naturally occurring platform for a
scalable quantum computer.
Quantum computers rely on entangled particles in order to process information. Entanglement
occurs when particles – subatomic, atomic, or molecular – physically interact with one another
in ways that give them common quantum properties. Not all entangled states are the same,
though. Some occur naturally. Others must be painstakingly created. Some states work for
quantum computing. Others do not.
Measurement-based quantum computation requires a system of entangled particles in a special
condition known as a “universal resource state.” Researchers used to think that this state could
only be achieved through difficult, artificial means and by exercising painstaking control over the
particles in a quantum system.
Miyake showed that quantum systems with universal resource states could occur naturally. He
was studying a quantum model that had previously been of interest primarily to condensed
matter physicists and that shares some properties with known real-world systems. He found
that this theoretical model could act as a universal resource state, raising the hope of finding a
naturally-occurring material with the same property.
One surprising by-product of quantum computing may be better telescopes.
One of the primary areas of study for quantum information researchers concerns moving quantum
states around and protecting them against errors. A branch of telescopy called interferometry
relies on those same capacities. An interferometer consists of an array of two or more telescopes,
all collecting electromagnetic radiation from the same target of observation. When observers
combine these readings, the discrepancies from one location to another create interference
patterns that can be decoded into an ultra-high resolution image. Increasing the distance
between dishes increases the resolution. Because radiowaves are abundant, interferometry