In an age where the value of technology is defined by its processing speed, Alexandre Blais has ideas about how to raise the bar to new heights. Dr. Blais of the Université de Sherbrooke’s Department of Physics is investigating approaches for utilizing superconductors to devise a whole new level of computing that exceeds every expectation we have of our laptops.
The field of Quantum Information Processing (QIP) aims to harness the behaviour of energy and matter at the atomic and subatomic scale to create computers that would be much faster than those offered by current technology using the unit of information known as a qubit. Short for "quantum bit," a qubit is similar to the classical computer bit, but where a bit is represented as a 0 or a 1, or "on" or "off," a qubit can be either or both at the same time. It is the qubit’s versatility that allows it to perform efficient calculations at rates exponentially greater than current computer processes.
Blais’s research seeks to broaden the understanding of devices that exhibit quantum phenomena and then apply this new understanding to QIP. For instance, with regard to superconducting electrical circuits, Blais is identifying mechanisms responsible for information loss and then designing qubits that have built-in tolerance to those mechanisms.
He has co-authored the paper that gave birth to the field of Circuit Quantum Electrodynamics (QED), a promising architecture for quantum computation. Circuit QED has already led to the first experimental realization of simple quantum algorithms in prototype solid-state quantum computers, and its far-reaching impact is now being felt in other fields, including quantum optics and atomic physics.
Blais’s work will contribute to developing what is considered the future of computers, one that transcends traditional computer technology. His field has garnered the keen interest of governments and technology enthusiasts worldwide and has implications that will improve not only computer hardware, but software aspects such as cryptography that will increase the security of information transactions on the Internet.