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The new approach which can be used in the future to create a quantum computer was born in a discussion between two physicists at Lobachevsky University: PhD student Anton Konakov and associate professor Denis Khomitsky. Subsequently, this idea became part of Anton's PhD thesis, and a year later assistant professor of the UNN Department of Theoretical Physics Anton Konakov applied for a presidential grant - and won it. The grant received by physicists of Lobachevsky University for further research in the field of quantum technologies based on topological insulators amounted to 1.2 million roubles. The two-year project to be implemented at the UNN will also involve some students and postgraduates.


 - It is not quite easy to explain what we are doing. We are developing a theoretical basis for creating new technologies aimed at practical application. Now scientists in many parts of the world, including Russia, Australia, China, and America, are working to create a quantum computer. A single quantum computer can solve some problems more efficiently and much faster than a multi-core supercomputer. It has a huge capacity and can store much more information. In Russia, scientists are developing a quantum computer on the basis of Josephson qubits (quantum bits).

 Qubits are analogs of the classical information carriers commonly known as bits in computers. A quantum computer (unlike a usual one) does not operate with bits (that are capable of taking on the value of either 0 or 1). Qubits can assume both 0 and 1 values ​​simultaneously.

 - We propose to create a quantum computer based on two-dimensional topological insulators. This is a special type of material, which is a dielectric (insulator) inside, but it conducts electric current on the surface. Experiments with topological insulators began 12 years ago, and they are obviously a promising material for research, - says Anton Konakov.

 The young scientist is convinced that it is possible to create a fully functional quantum computer on a film several microns in size. At present, it has the size of a conventional computer, but it requires for its operation a huge cooling plant, which can occupy an area comparable to the vast rooms housing early computers. Anton's field of interests is related to physics of semiconductor nanostructures and photonics.

 - One of the scientific problems on which physicists all over the world are working is to harness light (photonics) for replacing electronic data transfer. Photonic data transfer offers obvious advantages of much greater speed. To achieve this, an important technological problem has to be solved: it is necessary to produce an emitter for this type of data transmission. Silicon quantum dots, whose properties have been the object of investigation at the UNN since the mid-1990s, can be used for this purpose (to serve as a source or a receiver of photons). The basic component of this research is at the top world level. However, to start practical application of quantum dots as emitters, it is necessary to develop a technology for introducing silicon nanocrystals into integrated circuits. This part of research and development work is important for creating new electronic devices, memory elements for computers and gadgets, photodetectors, light emitters and circuit elements that are required for data transmission.

 In this context, one can mention the joint work of UNN researchers and their Indian partners aimed at developing a narrow-band ultraviolet photodetector. Recently, a team of scientists from the UNN has applied for a grant related to one of important areas in biomedicine. They propose using quantum dots as fluorescent markers for diagnosing human diseases: for example, silicon nanocrystals can be introduced into the human body so that they find and "light up" malignant cancer cells to distinguish them from normal cells.