There’s a good chance many of you have heard of quantum computing, but what exactly is quantum computing? Quantum computers are computers that directly apply the principles of quantum mechanics in order to conduct more advanced operations and increase data processing speed. Principles applied in quantum computing are based on quantum physics concepts such as quantum entanglement and superposition.
What will a Quantum Computer Look Like
Quantum computers will be very small. Instead of storing information on small computer chips, quantum computers will be able to store information on atoms, or possibly even smaller particles like electrons or protons. A quantum computer will need to contain some sort of box to store and contain the quantum particles. In theory this could be a very small box. It will need a mechanism for storing the particles in a certain state and a mechanism that can knock them into a different state. It will also need a device that can read the states of the particles, both before and after the operation has been performed.
How Does a Quantum Computer Work?
Traditional computers store information in units called bits. Bits store one of two values, a zero or a one. This is why they are considered to be binary computers or binary systems. A quantum computer stores information in a unit called a qubit. Qubits work very differently than bits do. They can store more than a simple value of zero or one.
A Qubit can store the values of both one and zero, but they can also store both a zero and one. They are also capable of storing any number of values in between. The truly amazing thing is that any and all of these infinite numbers of variables can be stored simultaneously. This is for every single qubit in the entire system. This is why quantum computers have the potential to be extremely fast and capable of carrying out complex operations. They will be able to compute and factor many more variables than current binary systems are capable of.
A quantum computer can process all the data stored in all the qubits in the system simultaneously. This makes the speed of a quantum computer almost unlimited. Current computer speed is limited because all the data must be processed in a serial manner. Estimates state that a quantum computer may possibly be up to a million times faster than a traditional computer.
What are Quantum Computers Used For
Quantum computing is vital for advancing the development of the fields of chemistry and nanotechnology. Some of the calculations that are required in these fields are too advanced for current computers to handle. A quantum computer can model and display predictive outcomes that are beyond the ability of current computers to model. This information will be especially helpful to these fields because they also deal with atomic and subatomic particles; and more complex calculations are sometimes necessary. We should see rapid advancement in the fields of chemistry and nanotechnology when quantum computing becomes viable.
What are the Risks with Quantum Computers
Quantum computers offer a lot of opportunities for advancement but there are some potential down sides to unleashing such power. Quantum computers can be used to help decode complex cryptographic systems. If these systems are breached, it could have serious ramifications for the security and privacy of data stored on the internet.
When Will Quantum Computers be Available
The idea of quantum computing was developed in the 1960s, but it is still in its infancy in 2017. National governments and many military agencies are funding research into quantum computing. In theory, a quantum computer can perform a larger number of functions in a shorter period of time. They are capable of solving problems that traditional computers are not capable of handling. They can provide a myriad of solutions to problems along with the probability percentage of each outcome occurring.
The most advanced quantum computer developed thus far was announced in 2016. This computer was designed through collaboration with MIT and the University of Innsbruck. It only contains five qubits. While quantum computers have been theoretical for decades, developing the technology is a slow process. It will be many years before quantum computing is viable for practical applications, but once it is developed it will change the world.