Quantum computing gets $155,000 grant

Two Rochester researchers have won a one-year grant to work on a new kind of computer that may solve problems that are impossible for conventional computers to crack.

The $155,000 grant from the Army Research Office will fund research on quantum computing, an as-yet unrealized technology that relies on the schizophrenic nature of quantum mechanics. Researchers Marc Feldman and Mark Bocko, two members of Rochester's electrical engineering department who are experts in superconducting electronics, propose using superconductors to move quantum computers from theory to reality.

"Right now, we're at the point where we believe quantum computing can be done," Feldman says. "We're just trying to see how it can be done with current or near-future technology."

Quantum computers won't replace conventional computers, but they may fill a certain niche. For example, Peter Shor of the AT&T Bell Laboratories electrified the field two years ago by showing that quantum computers can outperform conventional ones in factoring large numbers--a task with applications in encryption, a field that offers security in the burgeoning realm of electronic financial transactions. A large security-key number that would take the age of the universe to factor on a conventional computer would take a fraction of a second to factor on a quantum computer.

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