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Graphene valleytrionics could bring on personal quantum computers

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A team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and Max-Born Institut in Germany have achieved a breakthrough in valleytronics that could lead to quantum computers being accessible to all.

To date quantum computers have been large, complex and expensive, and require temperature of -200°C to operate. However, the researchers from IIT Bombay use graphene for encoding, processing and storing quantum information at room temperature. They’ve used a novel approach for encoding quantum information called “valleytronics”, which harnesses the electrons’ local minima, or “valleys”, in the energy bands – or the “valley pseudospin”. By manipulating how many electrons occupies each of the valleys, quantum information can be encoded, processed and stored at less restrictive temperatures.

The scientists performed valley operations in one-atom thick pristine graphene to manipulate the electron valleys with light.

“By tailoring the polarisation of two beams of light according to graphene’s triangular lattice, we found it possible to break the symmetry between two neighboring carbon atoms and exploit the electronic band structure in the regions close to the valleys, inducing valley polarisation, thus enabling graphene’s valleys to effectively “write” information,” said IIT Bombay Associate Professor, Gopal Dixit, who led this project’s team. “This could open the door to miniature, general-purpose quantum computers that can be used by regular people, much like laptops.”

Image: Electronic energy valley polarisation

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