As soon as you start talking about Quantum Mechanics, you enter a Looking-Glass world where particles can simultaneously be in two apparently contradictory states, or can exchange information over vast distances instantly, apparently faster than the speed of light. But Professor Leo Kouwenhoven at the physics department at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands wants to exploit these and other quantum properties to build the world’s first true quantum computer. The university has announced the founding of the QuTech Centre, which it hopes will open in January 2016 and will host an academic staff of 60 and 40 students.
“Our scientific know-how is now approaching the point where we can prove that we can really build such a computer,” he said.
Speaking on the 100th anniversary of the Niels Bohr model of the atom, which gave birth to the theory of quantum mechanics, Mr. Kouwenhoven said the computer would allow them to tackle topics that are way beyond the processing ability of conventional digital computers.
“We will be able to do calculations on materials that are incalculable now, such as understanding materials that would allow us to make room-temperature super-conductors.” Super-conductors are materials that conduct electricity with no resistance. Typically the effect is only seen at exceptionally low temperatures, a few degrees above absolute zero.
Quantum computers have also been talked about for use in cracking codes that rely on the use of very large prime numbers, or in dramatically improving the accuracy of weather predictions, which rely on vast calculations.