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The most accurate ato watch in the world has been created. Allows you to peer into electrons

The key to improving quantum computing is to better understand how electrons behave in solids. Thanks to the collaboration of physicists from the University of Michigan and the University of Regensburg, it was possible to capture the movement of electrons on the attosecond scale. The details are described in the diary Nature.

The most accurate ato watch on Earth

An attosecond (as) is a unit of time equal to one trillionth of a second (10-18 c). The prefix “atto-” comes from the Danish word eighteen (attention). 1 attosecond is the time it takes a photon to travel a distance equal to twelve diameters of hydrogen atoms.

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Observing the movement of electrons in attosecond time can help speed up data processing up to a billion times. We can all benefit from this.

Prof. Makilo Kira of the University of Michigan says:

Your computer’s processor operates in gigahertz, which is one billionth of a second per operation. In quantum computing, this is extremely slow because the electrons in the computer chip collide trillions of times per second, and each collision completes the cycle of the quantum computation. What we needed to improve performance were snapshots of this electron movement, which is a billion times faster. And now we have it.

To see the movement of electrons in two-dimensional quantum materials, scientists typically use short bursts of extreme ultraviolet (XUV) radiation. They can reveal the activity of the electrons attached to the atom’s nucleus. However, the large amount of energy contained in these bursts makes it impossible to clearly see the electrons as they travel through semiconductors, as in current computers and materials used in quantum computing.

The scientists apply two light pulses with energy scales corresponding to the moving electrons of the semiconductors. The first – a pulse of infrared light – puts the electrons in a state that allows them to move through the material. The second – a terahertz (lower energy) pulse – forces these electrons into controlled collisions. The collisions produce flashes of light whose precise timing reveals the interactions behind quantum information and exotic quantum materials.

Read also: For the first time, they quantized two clocks. What does this mean in practice?

Prof. Makilo Kira adds:

We used two pulses—one that is energetically aligned with the state of the electron, and then the other that causes that state to change. In principle, we can capture how these two pulses change the electron’s quantum state and then express it as a function of time.

Quantum materials can have strong magnetic, superconducting, or superconducting phases, and quantum computing has the potential to solve problems that would take too much time with classical computers and those that are currently beyond our reach.

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