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University of Sussex scientists present mysteries of quantum computing at Science Museum

University of Sussex's quantum computer vacuum system

Physicists from the University of Sussex will reveal the secrets of quantum computers to the UK public at the Science Museum in London this week.

Launching today (Wednesday 7 February), the Could quantum computers change the world? exhibition will illuminate a topic that has baffled scientists for decades. Curated by Sussex physicists in partnership with the Science Museum, it will be displayed in the Tomorrow’s World gallery space and will run for four months.

Once confined to science fiction – quantum theory predictions include that an object can be in two places at the same time – quantum computers are now becoming a reality, with the University of Sussex among those leading the development. 

The technology is so powerful that quantum computers will be able to calculate in minutes what would take even today’s fastest supercomputers billions of years. Unlike current computing, which uses binary codes, quantum computers instead use quantum states. It has enormous implications for a broad range of sectors such as finance, science and security.

Last year the University of Sussex published the world’s first practical blueprint for constructing a quantum computer. It followed collaboration with scientists around the world and Google US. The Sussex team is now in the process of building a prototype device, and are ramping up their efforts to build what may be the most powerful computer on earth.

Dr Sebastian Weidt, senior scientist in the Ion Quantum Technology group at the University of Sussex, is the lead physicist on the exhibition. He and colleagues will be talking to members of the public at a series of live events at the Science Museum between 13 and 15 February. Visitors will have the chance to remotely take control of a small-scale quantum computer that is located at the University of Sussex.

Dr Weidt said: “It has been a fantastic experience and a great pleasure to work with the Science Museum on this exhibition and help explain this potentially world-changing technology to the public.

“I am particularly thrilled visitors will be able to see some of the core quantum computer components currently under development at the University of Sussex. It’ll help people get a real feel for what these machines look like. I am also very much looking forward to having the opportunity to talk to the general public about our work at the Science Museum Tomorrow’s World Live events.” 

Amy Pollak, Content Developer at the Science Museum, said: “Quantum computers may soon have a significant impact on all of our lives. So it’s great for us to be working with the University of Sussex to share this exciting and cutting edge technology with our visitors.”

About the exhibition

Visitors will learn about some of the most important underlying principles of how a quantum computer works and what makes it so powerful. They will learn how these computers will be useful, and may change our lives. A model of the vacuum system used in the University of Sussex’s quantum computer prototype will be on display. The exhibition will also show a silicon wafer comprising 64 quantum computing microchips, which is the heart of the quantum computer being developed at Sussex.

By: Anna Ford
Last updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2018