Cretan-led team developing supercomputer using quantum ‘magic dust’
A team of scientists working in the United Kingdom and Russia, led by Greek physicist Pavlos G. Lagoudakis and Professor Natalia Berloff, are working on the development of a new type of supercomputer that uses a sort of “magic dust” made of polariton lattices – a type of quantum particle that are combinations of light and matter.
A paper submitted by the research team was published in the scientific journal “Nature Materials” on September 25 and is proposed as a way for solving complex problems that are currently considered impossible to solve, such as in biomedicine, designing new materials, finance and robotic space travel.
In addition to Professor Lagoudakis of the University of Southampton and the Russian institute Skoltech, the team also includes Greek postgraduate student Alexis Askitopoulos, a graduate of Crete University.
“We are at the start of researching the potential of polaritons for solving complex problems. At this stage we are increasing the scale of our device while simultaneously testing its basic computing power. Our ultimate aim is a quantum simulation microprocessor that operates in the conditions of the environment,” Lagoudakis said.
At the forefront of polariton research worldwide, Lagoudakis has been head of research at the Physics and Astronomy department and teaches at the Centre for Photonics and Quantum Materials at Southamptom University in the UK. He is also head of a Hybrid Photonics team at Skoltech in Russia.
The polariton ‘magic dust’ is created by beaming a laser on selected atoms of a chemical element, such as gallium, arsenic, indium or aluminium. Polaritons are ten thousand times lighter than electrons and form a state of matter known as a Bose-Einstein condensate. In this, the quantum phases of the polaritons synchronise and create a macroscopic quantum object that can be detected via photoluminescence measurements.