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Quantum Breakthrough at UC Irvine: Glass Transformed Into Future Computers

Last Updated February 1, 2024 11:44 AM
Samantha Dunn
Last Updated February 1, 2024 11:44 AM
Key Takeaways
  • Researchers at UC Irvine and Los Alamos National Laboratory have made a breakthrough in quantum materials research.
  • The researchers transformed glass into conductors for use in quantum computers.
  • This advancement is promising for the development of future devices.

A publication in the scientific journal Nature Communications  showcased how a team of researchers have successfully transformed glass into efficient conductors similar to copper.

The research paper, led by Luis A. Jauregui, professor of physics & astronomy at UCI, demonstrates how the team applied new techniques to create high-quality quantum materials.

Transforming Glass Into A Quantum Material

By developing a novel method, the researchers from the two universities successfully transformed everyday materials like glass into quantum computing materials. This discovery opens up new possibilities for the development of quantum computers, which are expected to surpass the capabilities of today’s conventional computers.

UC Irvine’s news platform shared further insight from the research team.

“Imagine if we could transform glass, typically considered an insulating material, and convert it into efficient conductors akin to copper. That’s what we’ve done.” said lead author of the paper Luis A. Jauregui.


According to the paper, the research focused on materials such as glass due to their specific properties.

“The materials we made are substances that exhibit unique electrical or quantum properties because of their specific atomic shapes or structures,

“I am pleased by the way theoretical simulations offer profound insights into experimental observations, thereby accelerating the discovery of methods for controlling the quantum states of novel materials,” said co-author Ruqian Wu, professor of physics and Associate Director of the UCI Center for Complex and Active Materials.

“This underscores the success of collaborative efforts involving diverse expertise in frontier research”.

Strain Engineering: The Key to Material Transformation

The research focused on transforming poor-conducting quantum materials into good conductors by applying strain at the atomic scale.

By “poking holes” in the atomic structure of materials, they introduce large strains that significantly alter the material’s properties. Professor Jauregui explains that this method allows for the conversion of materials that are typically poor conductors into good conductors, essential for the development of quantum computers.

The groundbreaking nature of the work lies in its ability to convert poor conductors into efficient ones, akin to transforming glass into a material with the conductivity of copper.

This advancement is pivotal for quantum computing, which relies on materials that can efficiently manage quantum states. By applying specific types of strain at the atomic level, the UCI team, utilizing their unique “bending station,” has changed the atomic structure of hafnium pentatelluride making it suitable for use in quantum computers.

A Leap Towards Efficient Quantum Computing

Several recent quantum breakthroughs  have taken place, but only a handful of quantum computers exist. “Google, IBM, and many other companies are looking for effective quantum computers that we can use in our daily lives,” said Jauregui.

“Our hope is that this new research helps make the promise of quantum computers more of a reality”.

These machines, heralded for their potential to revolutionize computing by solving problems far beyond the reach of classical computers, remain largely experimental.

Nonetheless, the broad reach and impact of quantum computing are already being highlighted. A recent blog by the Bank of England (BoE) outlined the transformative nature of quantum computers on payment systems, with quantum networks leading to a “fundamental change to what a payment means, allowing counterparties to communicate sophisticated, conditional, strategies to the payments system”.

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