Posted on May 11, 2010

An experimental demonstration of a quantum calculation by researchers in Japan has shown that a single molecule can perform Fourier transform operations thousands of times faster than any conventional computer. Researchers in Japan describe a proof-of-principle calculation they performed with an iodine molecule. The calculation involved that computation of a discrete Fourier transform, a common algorithm that's particularly handy for analyzing certain types of signals.

Although the calculation was extraordinary swift, the methods for handling and manipulating the iodine molecule are complex and challenging. In addition, it's not entirely clear how such computational components would have to be connected to make something resembling a conventional PC.

Nevertheless, Ian Walmsley of the University of Oxford points out that the demonstration of such an astonishingly high-speed calculation shows that there is a great deal to be gained if physicists can overcome the difficulties in putting single-molecule computation to practical use.

Jason McManus via EurekAlert