• Wed. Nov 29th, 2023

    Critical Thought

    Critical thoughts on quantum technologies

    Quantum Information Storage: Harnessing the Power of Sound Waves

    BySam Figg

    Nov 17, 2023
    Quantum Information Storage: Harnessing the Power of Sound Waves

    In a groundbreaking development in the field of quantum computing, scientists have made a significant breakthrough in quantum information storage. By harnessing the power of sound waves, researchers have found a novel method to store electrical quantum states and convert them into sound, and vice versa.

    The storage of information is essential in both traditional computing and quantum computing. Whether it’s personal files, messages, or data, there needs to be a means to store and retrieve this information. Quantum computing, which is still in its infancy, is actively exploring new ways to store quantum information effectively.

    In a recent study published in the journal Nature Physics, a team led by Mohammad Mirhosseini, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and applied physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), introduced an innovative technique for translating electrical quantum states into sound. This new method relies on phonons, which are the sound equivalents of photons – particles of light. By utilizing phonons, the researchers have found a way to store quantum information efficiently without the energy loss associated with previous storage methods.

    So how exactly does sound wave storage work? Imagine a room with exceptional acoustics, where sound waves reverberate for an extended period. If you were to shout out your grocery list inside this room – let’s say, “Eggs, bacon, and milk!” – and return an hour later, you would still hear your own voice echoing those words. This simple analogy illustrates how sound waves can be used to store information effectively.

    To put this concept into practice, Mirhosseini’s team developed a miniaturized device consisting of flexible plates that vibrate at high frequencies when exposed to sound waves. By applying an electric charge to these plates, they become capable of interacting with electrical signals carrying quantum information. This enables the information to be piped into the device for storage and later retrieval.

    One crucial advantage of this new method is its compatibility with existing quantum devices that rely on microwaves. Unlike previous approaches that depended on specific materials, this technique is not limited by material properties, making it more versatile and adaptable.

    While the development of effective storage devices with small footprints has been a challenge in quantum computing, Mirhosseini’s team has made significant strides. According to Alkim Bozkurt, a graduate student in Mirhosseini’s group and the lead author of the study, their method allows for the storage of quantum information from electrical circuits for durations two orders of magnitude longer than other compact mechanical devices.

    This breakthrough in quantum information storage opens up new possibilities for the development of future quantum computers. By utilizing the power of sound waves and avoiding energy loss, researchers are inching closer to overcoming the limitations of current storage technologies. The ability to store information efficiently is a crucial step in harnessing the full potential of quantum computing and revolutionizing various industries.


    Q: What is quantum information storage?
    A: Quantum information storage refers to the process of storing quantum states, which are the building blocks of quantum computing.

    Q: How does sound wave storage work?
    A: Sound wave storage utilizes the reverberation of sound waves in a confined space to encode and store information.

    Q: What are phonons?
    A: Phonons are the sound equivalents of photons – particles of light. In the context of quantum information storage, phonons are utilized to store quantum states as mechanical waves.

    Q: What are the advantages of the new method?
    A: The new method of storing quantum information using sound waves offers longer storage durations, avoids energy loss, and is compatible with existing quantum devices based on microwaves.

    Q: Why is quantum information storage important?
    A: Quantum information storage is critical for the development of quantum computers and the efficient processing of large amounts of data in fields such as cryptography, optimization, and simulation.

    Q: Can this method be scaled up for practical use?
    A: While further research is necessary, the use of sound waves for quantum information storage holds promising potential for future applications.