A super PC with incredibly high computing power thanks to a diamond heart. It sounds like science fiction, but it is a concrete scenario on which a pool of researchers from the Milan Polytechnic and CNR are working, together with the University of Calgary and the University of Kyoto.
The leader of the group of scientists is Canadian Shane Eaton, who has lived and worked in Italy for nine years. “A kind of reverse brain drain”, he explains smiling the researcher to the microphones of the Innovation Post. Eaton is the latest signer of an article published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports in which scientists tell how they succeeded for the first time in a truly incredible feat: creating an optical circuit inside a diamond that connects “quantum bits” ”, Quantum bits capable of assuming at the same time the state of zero and one, thus offering hitherto unimaginable possibilities for parallel computing.
For this work Eaton has also obtained a grant of 420 million from MIUR under the SIR – Scientific Independence of Young Researchers program, money that will be used to continue the research activities.
How does it work?
Everything comes from a particular characteristic of the diamond. This “pure” stone made of carbon actually contains some impurities inside. One of these is a nitrogen atom next to a stable ‘nitrogen vacancy’. This particular combination can be exploited for quantum bits (quBits), but until now there was no diamond microfabrication technique that would allow the quBits to be connected to make a quantum computer. And this is what Shane Eaton and his colleagues managed to do: using ultra-short laser pulses (some experiments were carried out at CNST-IIT Milan), the researchers managed to modify the physical characteristics of the diamond, putting it in communication through optical circuits. the so-called ‘defects’ and laying the foundations for the creation of futuristic computers. What is still missing? Not much: the researchers are in fact working to be able to “line up” more defects to obtain a circuit of about ten quBits, which would allow to create a super-powerful PC in the space of one centimeter.
The application potential is enormous. Meanwhile, we specify that you do not need precious natural diamonds, but the much cheaper synthetic diamonds are enough (the stone used for the experiments costs about 500 euros). Possible applications will range from precision medical diagnostics to the creation of clean energy, from climate change predictions to stock market changes, from cloud computing to artificial intelligence. One of the first concrete projects the pool is working on is an MRI machine with unprecedented resolution and sensitivity.