- By Wilson P. Dizard III
- Dec 10, 2003
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has an active quantum computing program that encompasses work by federal and university scientists. Some of the NIST Quantum Information Program research, described at ubit.nist.gov, occurs at the agency's Time and Frequency Division in Boulder, Colo.
Researchers there have studied the limits of quantum computing by building an electronic ion trap to control particles of beryllium.
They've created a lab version of physicist Erwin Schr'dinger's 1935 thought experiment illustrating the capability of atoms to simultaneously take on two states of existence. The 1935 experiment involved a hypothetical 'Schr'dinger's cat' that was at once alive and dead.
NIST's experiment illustrates the paradox, called decoherence, which scientists say makes quantum systems possible. (P. S. No cats were harmed in the creation of this paradox.)