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A computer in which the carriers of information behaved according to quantum mechanics could yield tremendous gains in processing speed. While today’s computers must feed through input strings one by one, quantum mechanics could allow algorithms to be executed on all possible input strings at once.

Progress toward constructing a quantum computer, however, remains in its infancy. Computations have been performed on systems of eight “quantum binary digits” (“qubits”), but these have been nowhere near modern computers’ performance.


A collaboration led by Yale professors Rob Schoelkopf, Michel Devoret, and Steven Girvin is developing a method of communication between qubits, which could be extended to systems involving more qubits working at greater distances.

Richard (Dick) Shank stepped onto Yale’s campus in July of 1942 as a freshman,

a member of the class of 1945. Since then, he has been a Yale professor,

a residential college dean, and Yale registrar.

Known as a “quantum bus,” this system sends information back and forth from one stationary circuit-based qubit to another via the exchange of a single photon resonating in a cavity, like a light wave bouncing between mirrors.


Alternatively, information is sent from a stationary qubit to a single traveling photon with information encoded in the probabilities of the existence and nonexistence of this moving packet of energy.