New technologies that exploit quantum behavior for computing and other applications are closer than ever to being a reality due to recent advances.
These advances could enable the creation of immensely powerful computers as well as other applications, such as highly sensitive detectors capable of probing biological systems.
"We are really excited about the possibilities of new semiconductor materials and new experimental systems that have become available in the last decade," Jason Petta, one of the authors of the report and an associate professor of physics at Princeton University said.
Petta co-authored the article with David Awschalom of the University of Chicago, Lee Basset of the University of California-Santa Barbara, Andrew Dzurak of the University of New South Wales and Evelyn Hu of Harvard University.
Two significant breakthroughs are enabling this forward progress, Petta said in an interview.
The first is the ability to control quantum units of information, known as quantum bits, at room temperature.
Until recently, temperatures near absolute zero were required, but new diamond-based materials allow spin qubits to be operated on a table top, at room temperature.
Diamond-based sensors could be used to image single molecules, as demonstrated earlier this year by Awschalom and researchers at Stanford University and IBM Research (Science, 2013).
The second big development is the ability to control these quantum bits, or qubits, for several seconds before they lapse into classical behavior, a feat achieved by Dzurak's team (Nature, 2010) as well as Princeton researchers led by Stephen Lyon, professor of electrical engineering (Nature Materials, 2012).
The development of highly pure forms of silicon, the same material used in today's classical computers, has enabled researchers to control a quantum mechanical property known as "spin".
Quantum-based technologies exploit the physical rules that govern very small particles-such as atoms and electrons-rather than the classical physics evident in everyday life.
New technologies based on " spintronics " rather than electron charge, as is currently used, would be much more powerful than current technologies.
Some of the most exciting applications are in new sensing and imaging technologies rather than in computing, Petta said.
The findings are published in the journal Science.