Nuclear-Spin Quantum Memory Poised to Take the Lead

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Science  08 Jun 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6086, pp. 1239-1240
DOI: 10.1126/science.1223439

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Exploiting quantum mechanics for processing information requires balancing two opposing criteria. Quantum systems must be isolated to prevent decoherence—destruction of the quantum state—but must interact with other quantum systems if the stored information is to be accessed and processed. One way to overcome this challenge is to transfer quantum states between two different systems—one for efficient processing and readout, and the other for long-term storage. Two papers in this issue—by Steger et al. on page 1280 (1) and Maurer et al. on page 1283 (2)—show that solid-state quantum memories based on nuclear spin states can have extremely long storage times that approach those of ion traps in a vacuum. This capability is enabled in part by using highly isotopically pure semiconductor materials to make “semiconductor vacuums” that isolate nuclear spins in near solitude.