Why a UC Riverside scientist got $2M in grant? It has to do with Quantum computers

By: Sharjeel Sohaib

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Aug 20, 2021

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Quantum Computer

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National Science Foundation gave $2M to Lorenzo Mangolini, a UC Riverside materials scientist who aims to make quantum computers operational at room temperature. This is the second grant UC Riverside won, a $450k grant from the Southern California Energy Innovation Network last month.

Why is it important?

The current technology requires that these computers run in “cryogenic conditions,” which means that they are operated at very low lab-grade temperatures (-273°C, to be precise).

Scientists call it a limiting factor of Quantum computers which makes it impossible for researchers and organizations to use these compute machines outside of high-tech research companies. This, in turn, means these computers are not produced in bulk. As a result, society at large cannot benefit from these powerful computers.  

The breakthrough lies in alternative materials and structures

The National Science Foundation has provided a $2M grant to Mangolini’s research team and how the team uses a ‘first principle’ method to solve the problem. UC Riverside’s Holy Ober explains it:

The project will integrate silicon quantum dots with carefully designed organic molecules to optimize optical and electronic coupling between the two components so the computers can operate without need for cryogenic conditions.

Holy Ober, Author at UC Riverside News

Silicon Quantum dots

Mangolini’s team will use the inorganic component to store and optically access quantum information at room temperature is a Silicon quantum dot, a sort of nanoparticle with optical and electronic properties.

“By grafting transmitter organic molecules onto the surface of the silicon particles, we can tune the chemistry and bidirectional energy transfer between the two system components to achieve unprecedented control over their optoelectronic coupling,” 

Lorenzo Mangolini, Project head and associate professor of mechanical engineering @ UC Riverside

The U.S Army researchers also try to solve the Quantum computer temperature problem.

The researchers at the U.S Army are also trying to solve this sticky problem. A research paper they recently published in the Science Daily throws light on their approach:

Photonic circuits incorporating nonlinear optical crystals can make quantum computers with solid-state systems operate at room temperatures.

For now, the heat is an enemy of Quantum computers, thus the need to keep them operational at lab-grade temperatures. Although Mangolini’s team comes up with better materials and structures with which to make bits and parts of Quantum computers, the world has to rejoice in even one °C improvement in the temperature at which these computers need to run.

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