An experimental demonstration of a quantum calculation has shown that a single molecule can perform operations thousands of times faster than any conventional computer.
In a paper published in the May 3 issue of Physical Review Letters, researchers in Japan describe a proof-of-principle calculation they performed with an iodine molecule. The calculation involved that computation of a discrete Fourier transform, a common algorithm that's particularly handy for analyzing certain types of signals.
Although the calculation was extraordinary swift, the methods for handling and manipulating the iodine molecule are complex and challenging. In addition, it's not entirely clear how such computational components would have to be connected to make something resembling a conventional PC.
Nevertheless, in a Viewpoint in the current edition of APS Physics, Ian Walmsley (University of Oxford) points out that the demonstration of such an astonishingly high-speed calculation shows that there is a great deal to be gained if physicists can overcome the difficulties in putting single-molecule computation to practical use.
- Kouichi Hosaka, Hiroyuki Shimada, Hisashi Chiba, Hiroyuki Katsuki, Yoshiaki Teranishi, Yukiyoshi Ohtsuki, Kenji Ohmori. Ultrafast Fourier Transform with a Femtosecond-Laser-Driven Molecule. Physical Review Letters, 2010; 104 (18): 180501 DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.104.180501
- Ian Walmsley. Ultrafast computing with molecules. Physics, 2010; 3: 38 DOI: 10.1103/Physics.3.38
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