UNSW

Hot qubits made in Sydney break one of the biggest constraints to practical quantum computers

A proof-of-concept published in Nature promises warmer, cheaper and more robust quantum computing. And it can be manufactured using conventional silicon chip foundries.

For interviews contact Niall Byrne, niall@scienceinpublic.com.au, +61-417-131–977. Full media kit here.

Dr Henry Yang and Professor Andrew Dzurak: “hot qubits” are a game-changer for quantum computing development.
Credit: Paul Henderson-Kelly

Most quantum computers being developed around the world will only work at fractions of a degree above absolute zero. That requires multi-million-dollar refrigeration and as soon as you plug them into conventional electronic circuits they’ll instantly overheat.

But now researchers led by Professor Andrew Dzurak at UNSW Sydney have addressed this problem.

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Predicting firestorms; what we don’t know about rice; and have you seen a sawfish?

We’re back this week with three stories:

You can read more about each of these stories below, including details of scientists to interview.

Kind regards,

Niall


The shape of a perfect storm: saving lives by predicting firestorms

Scientists available for interview – details and photos below.

Correction: an earlier version stated the tool is being formally trialed by the NSW Rural Fire SERVICE. It is currently in use, but formal trials ended in 2016.

A fully developed pyrocumulus cloud, formed from the smoke plume of the Grampians fire in February 2013. Credit: Randall Bacon

Firestorms are a nightmare for emergency services and anyone in their path. They occur when a bushfire meets a ‘perfect storm’ of environmental conditions and creates a thunderstorm.

Dr Rachel Badlan and Associate Professor Jason Sharples are part of a team of experts from UNSW Canberra and ACT Emergency Services that has found the shape of a fire is an important factor in whether it will turn into a firestorm.

Fires that form expansive areas of active flame, rather than spreading as a relatively thin fire-front, are more likely to produce higher smoke plumes and turn into firestorms, the researchers found.

This finding is being used to underpin further development of a predictive model for firestorms. The model was trialed in the 2015 and 2016 fire seasons by the ACT Emergency Services Agency and the NSW Rural Fire Service, and now forms part of the national dialogue around extreme bushfire development.  

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Nobel laureate presents school science project

Posted on behalf of the University of New South Wales

It’s not every day that school students get to present their science project to a major scientific conference, and rarer still to receive a prize for it from a Nobel Laureate.

That’s the happy experience today for a team of four Year 11 students from Gosford High School, who have won a national competition conducted by UNSW and the Australian Institute of Physics.

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How close are we to quantum computers?

Quantum computers promise ultra-powerful, high speed number crunching. They’ll help us to search vast databases and model biological molecules at an atomic level. They will crack the encryptions we rely on for banking and online security but also help us make new, unbreakable codes.

How close are we to building a quantum computer? Australian scientists are working on it.

Also at the national physics congress today: meet the man in charge of planning and designing the NBNdesigning a cheaper high-precision clock for GPS, astronomy and space tracking; and fighting greenhouse gases and arc-welding fumes with super-heated thermal plasma.

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Accurate time with light and designing the NBN

A new, cheaper way to deliver accurate time across Australia: instead of using hydrogen maser clocks costing hundreds of thousands of dollars we can bounce signals through the national’s optical fibre network according to physics leaders speaking today and tomorrow.

Also today at the national physics congress in Sydney, meet the man whose job it is to figure out how to build the NBN.

And hear about the magic of thermal plasmas, from safer arc welding to saving the ozone layer.

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Single-atom writer a landmark for quantum computing

Posted on behalf of the University of New South Wales

A research team led by Australian engineers has created the first working quantum bit based on a single atom in silicon, opening the way to ultra-powerful quantum computers of the future.

In a landmark paper published today in the journal Nature, the team describes how it was able to both read and write information using the spin, or magnetic orientation, of an electron bound to a single phosphorus atom embedded in a silicon chip.

“For the first time, we have demonstrated the ability to represent and manipulate data on the spin to form a quantum bit, or ‘qubit’,  the basic unit of data for a quantum computer,” says Scientia Professor Andrew Dzurak. “This really is the key advance towards realising a silicon quantum computer based on single atoms.”

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Can Australian researchers help maintain the technological superiority of the US Air Force?

And what are the benefits for Australian research?

Today in Washington DC, the Australian Ambassador Kim Beazley will open a four day workshop with more than 60 US defence researchers and 33 Australian nanotechnology scientists.

The meeting, organised by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF), will explore opportunities for collaboration in nanotechnology and nano-manufacturing.

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