Editorial Feature

How Graphene Could Hold the Key to Household Quantum Computers

The carbon allotrope, graphene, has become a revolutionary material that has been used for many innovative applications, such as in electronics. Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology and Germany have investigated developments in pristine graphene to encode and process quantum information more effectively, which could help aid the future of quantum computing. This article will provide more information on the innovative research undertaken by the researchers and investigate how graphene can be used to revolutionize the role of quantum computers.

How Graphene Could Hold the Key to Household Quantum Computers

Image Credit: Production Perig/Shutterstock.com

Quantum computers can perform calculations based on the probability of an object’s state before measurement and so can process more data. These types of computers can be seen in use by data analysis companies such as Google or Microsoft. However, they are seen as being high maintenance due to being large, expensive, and require very low temperatures such as -200 degrees Celsius for operation.

These limitations make quantum computers perfect for advancements, such as using pristine graphene for processing and storing quantum information. A novel development in this field could be revolutionary, with innovative improvements including smaller and simpler quantum computers that can function effectively at room temperature.

Quantum computers have gained more popularity in recent years due to the potential advantage over classical computers because of their higher performance and speed. Despite this, practical applications have limited their development leading to much theoretical investigation.

Research into Quantum Computers

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, and Max-Born Institut, Germany, have collaborated on advancing quantum computers and working on the challenges to make these computers more accessible. The research was published in the journal Optica March 18th, 2021. 

The scientists achieved a breakthrough in valleytronics, an experimental area in semiconductors focused on the degree of freedom within ‘valleys’ in the electronic band structure. Their investigations uncovered a method for performing valley operations within a single atom layer, or pristine graphene, where the carbon atoms are structured within a hexagonal sheet.

Associate Professor Gopal Dixit from IIT commented on the novel strategy to break graphene’s valley symmetry through the use of light.

By tailoring the polarization 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 polarization.

Gopal Dixit, Associate Professor, Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Technology

This discovery shed new light on the electron valleys within graphene, which was previously not seen as viable for valley operations due to graphene’s inherent symmetry. With this new research, the pioneering properties of graphene have reached new limits. 

Graphene and Quantum Computers

The significance of exploiting the valleys within graphene lies within the possibility of increasing and optimizing encoding processes and processing information in a quantum computer. Flashes of light can cause electrons within the valleys to move several hundred trillion times a second, illustrating the potential of valleytronics working at petahertz rates. Such a development would be revolutionary for modern classical computers as this speed would be a million times faster.

Further research into this concept and advancing quantum computers could support the development of the electronics industry, providing effective and efficient technology which would meet the highest demand of industry leaders and consumers. Dr. Dixit added that the research undertaken by the group of scientists “could open the door to miniature, general-purpose quantum computers that can be used by regular people, much like laptops.”

The Future of Quantum Computers 

The potential of creating laptops with the technological advancement of quantum computers would greatly progress the electronics and semiconductor industry, from assisting consumers and supporting advanced needs to utilizing quantum computer technology in a more accessible manner within laboratories and research facilities. The applications of this potential innovation could significantly impact all industries, supporting all types of research without money bias. 

With the challenges of this industry remaining endless, having a novel technology such as quantum computer technology within households would be revolutionary, dramatically modifying the quality of electronics introduced into the market. Providing cost-effective and quality technology to consumers to meet demands would further aid a developing, technological society.  

Increasing the efficiency, speed, and reliability of technology through the possible introduction of quantum computers through graphene would be a step into a novel era of innovation.

References and Further Research 

Mrudul, M., Jiménez-Galán, Á., Ivanov, M. and Dixit, G., (2021) Light-induced valleytronics in pristine graphene. Optica, 8(3), p.422. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1364/OPTICA.418152

Staff, S., (2021) How Do Quantum Computers Work?. [online] ScienceAlert. Available at: https://www.sciencealert.com/quantum-computers

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Marzia Khan

Written by

Marzia Khan

Marzia Khan is a lover of scientific research and innovation. She immerses herself in literature and novel therapeutics which she does through her position on the Royal Free Ethical Review Board. Marzia has a MSc in Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine as well as a BSc in Biomedical Sciences. She is currently working in the NHS and is engaging in a scientific innovation program.


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