Ion Power; March 2006; Scientific American Magazine; by Graham P. Collins; 2 Page(s)
In their quest to build a computer that would take advantage of the weirdness of quantum mechanics, physicists are pursuing a number of disparate technologies, including superconducting devices, photon-based systems, quantum dots, spintronics and nuclear magnetic resonance of molecules. In recent months, however, teams working with trapped atomic ions have demonstrated several landmark feats that the other approaches will be hard-pressed to match.
A quantum computer operates on quantum bits, or qubits, instead of ordinary bits. A qubit can be not just 0 or 1 but also a superposition of the two, in which proportions of zero-ness and one-ness are combined in a single state.