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CCNY, UC Berkeley develop lasers that could rewrite quantum chips, spin those atoms right round

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Computers are normally limited by the fixed nature of their chipsets: once the silicon is out of the factory, its capabilities are forever locked in. The City College of New York and University of California Berkeley have jointly developed a technique that could break chips free of these prisons and speed along quantum computing. They found that hitting gallium arsenide with a laser light pattern aligns the spins of the atoms under the rays, creating a spintronic circuit that can re-map at a moment's notice. The laser could be vital to quantum computers, which can depend heavily or exclusively on spintronics to work: a simple shine could get electrons storing a much wider range of numbers and consequently handling many more calculations at once. Research is only just now becoming public, however; even though gallium arsenide is common in modern technology, we'll need to be patient before we find quantum PCs at the local big-box retail chain. Despite this, we could still be looking at an early step in a shift from computers with many single-purpose components to the abstracted, all-powerful quantum machines we've held in our science fiction dreams.

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