Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Quantum Mechanics Paves Way to Future

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Quantum Mechanics Paves Way to Future

Article excerpt

The set of theories that describe subatomic particles such as electrons and photons in the microworld falls into the field of quantum mechanics, an area quite different from the world of classical physics, from which Newton's law of motion was derived.

The theory of quantum mechanics, which debuted about a century ago, was until recently more of an academic field. Now it's become a main theme in the development of innovative technologies.

One of the areas in which the theory of quantum mechanics is having the biggest impact is the development of quantum computers.

Conventional computers perform calculations by processing binary data comprised of the units 0 and 1.

Quantum computers, however, utilize phenomena particular to quantum mechanics -- superposition and entanglement -- to increase the number of possible states. Quantum computers can realize calculation speeds that are overwhelmingly faster than those of existing super computers by utilizing a greater number of states.

Major information technology companies around the world are fiercely competing to develop the technology, including the U.S.-based companies Google, Microsoft and IBM.

A Canadian start-up company has sold commercially available quantum computers for several years.

Using the company's products, Denso Corp., a major Japanese auto parts manufacturer, has begun application research that can contribute to self-driving cars. Also, the Recruit group has made attempts to utilize quantum computers for optimizing advertisement distribution.

In Japan, a research and development project conducted by the NTT group and others under a technology promotion program of the Cabinet Office has been attracting attention.

While other types of quantum computers utilize electric or magnetic phenomena, the NTT-led project has adopted an original technique using pulses of light circulating in fiber-optic cables.

The team's first quantum computer was connected to the internet in November last year. This spring, universities and companies are beginning full-fledged studies into how to utilize the computer. …

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