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Quantum Computing: Superposition - Science Next

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Louisiana Quantum Initiative
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Louisiana State University
The Louisiana Quantum Initiative is the statewide endeavor to advance the research and technology of quantum systems, particularly toward evolving the second quantum revolution, developing the strategy and technological infrastructure of quantum-driven networks and devices.

Big tech companies like Google and IBM are pouring billions into the study of the tiny, subatomic particles involved in quantum mechanics. Why? So they can stay in the international race to build the first universal quantum computer.

Quantum computers will have the ability to encode much more information compared to today's computers. They will also be able to solve long, complex problems in minutes, rather than the years that it could take a computer today to solve the same problems.

So how exactly do these quantum computer systems work?
Quantum computers harness the seemingly magical ability of these tiny particles to exist in more than one state. You may have heard of the computer bit. A bit can exist as either a "one" or a "zero."

Well, quantum computers use the qubit, which can exist as both a "one" and a "zero" at the same time. This is called superposition.

So how can a particle exist in more than one state at the same time?
It may help if you think of superstition like a coin. A tossed coin can land on either heads or tails. But when you spin a coin on its axis, you don’t know if it’s head or tails. It’s actually in a state of both heads and tails.

Superposition allows more information to be stored. A qubit, like a coin spinning on its axis, can hold more information than a regular "zero-or-one," "on or off" computer bit.

Thanks to the quantum mechanics phenomenon of superposition, quantum computers could solve much more complicated problems than current computers can.

Special thanks Jonathan Dowling and Michelle Lollie with the LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy for contributing to this report. Visit the Louisiana Quantum Initiative’s website to read about their work here: https://www.lsu.edu/research/quantum/index.php