When quantum computing becomes feasible there will be a technological revolution as nearly-impossible problems become solvable and even complex systems become something we can model. That time is still quite far into the future as the components of quantum computers are still in the experimental stage now. Researchers at the University of New South Wales have successfully made one of these components though, and did so in silicon.
As silicon is already well understood in both the scientific and commercial world, the ability to make these components with it is invaluable, but that does not negate the challenge of it. The researchers placed a single atom of phosphorus next to a special silicon transistor, and using a microwave field, they were able to affect the spin of an electron attached to the phosphorus atom. This makes that phosphorus atom the first single-atom qubit within a silicon device. Next the researchers want to make a second qubit so they may form a two-qubit logic gate.
This is an important step towards the quantum-computing future because it gives us another way to create qubits and it was done in silicon. The ability to manufacture a quantum computer with similar technology and techniques currently used to make modern computers would be a giant step forward as it would make quantum computing accessible to people both inside and outside of labs.