Scientists have made a tiny crystal which they claim will take quantum computing to the next level, creating one of the world's most powerful computers ever developed.
"Computing technology has taken a huge leap forward using a crystal with just 300 atoms suspended in space," said Michael Biercuk at the University of Sydney, who led an international team.
He added: "The system we have developed has the potential to perform calculations that would require a supercomputer larger than the size of the known universe -- and it does it all in a diameter of less than a millimetre.
"The projected performance of this new experimental quantum simulator eclipses the current maximum capacity of any known computer by an astonishing 10 to the power of 80. That is one followed by 80 zeros, in other words 80 orders of magnitude, a truly mind-boggling scale."
The work smashes previous records in terms of the number of elements working together in a quantum simulator, and therefore the complexity of the problems that can be addressed.
In fact, the team, which also included scientists from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology, Georgetown University in Washington, North Carolina State University and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa, has produced a specialised kind of quantum computer known as a quantum simulator.
It's revolutionary crystal exceeds all previous experimental attempts in providing "programmability" and the critical threshold of qubits needed for the simulator to exceed the capability of most supercomputers.
"Many properties of natural materials governed by the laws of quantum mechanics are very difficult to model using conventional computers. The key concept in quantum simulation is building a quantum system to provide insights into the behaviour of other naturally occurring physical systems," Biercuk said.
The findings have been published in the Nature journal.