New light-based computer runs at quantum speeds

from the quantum-computing dept.
A research team at the University of Rochester in New York state has created an optical information processing device that provides some of the advantages of quantum computing. The device mimics quantum interference, an important property that makes quantum computers exponentially faster at tasks such as breaking encryption codes or searching huge databases. Instead of interference, conventional computers use electrons to perform tasks sequentially. Quantum interference methods allow massive parallelism, vastly increasing the speed of the process. The new device proves that using light interference is just as effective as quantum interference in retrieving items from a database. The optical device does not, however, employ quantum entanglement, a property which may allow unique computing capabilities, but which so far has not been harnessed on a large scale.

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