A group of Harvard scientists were able to create quantum bits, or qubits, and store information in them for nearly two seconds – all at room temperature. Previous work with qubits required they be cooled to near absolute zero, but the Harvard scientists used diamonds that increased the life span of previous systems by six times. This research is an important step in research toward one day building a practical quantum computer that would not require expensive cooling and would still deliver very high efficiency and fidelity qubit without expensive cooling.
Working with researchers at a company that specializes in manufacturing artificial diamonds, the scientists developed a new technique to create crystals that were 99.99 percent pure. The group then bombarded the crystal with nitrogen to create a nitrogen-vacancy center, which interacts with a nearby carbon-13 atom. The result of that interaction is that the center mirrors the state of the carbon atom, meaning researchers can encode a bit of information into the spin of the atom and then “read” that data by monitoring the center.