## Quantum Computing Results May Help in Code BreakingMay 18, 2005
Contact: Laura Ost 303-497-4880
A crucial step in a procedure that could enable future quantum computers to break today’s most commonly used encryption codes has been demonstrated by physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). As reported in the May 13 issue of the journal "Our demonstration is important, because it helps pave the way toward building a large-scale quantum computer," says John Chiaverini, lead author of the paper. "Our approach also requires fewer steps and is more efficient than those demonstrated previously." The NIST team used electromagnetically trapped beryllium ions as qubits to demonstrate a quantum version of the "Fourier transform" process, a widely used method for finding repeating patterns in data. The quantum version is the crucial final step in Shor's algorithm, a series of steps for finding the "prime factors" of large numbers—the prime numbers that when multiplied together produce a given number. Developed by Peter Shor of Bell Labs in 1994, the factoring algorithm sparked burgeoning interest in quantum computing. Modern cryptography techniques, which rely on the fact that even the fastest supercomputers require very long times to factor large numbers, are used to encode everything from military communications to bank transactions. But a quantum computer using Shor's algorithm could factor a number several hundred digits long in a reasonably short time. This algorithm made code breaking the most important application for quantum computing. For further information, see www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/fourier.htm. *J. Chiaverini, J. Britton, D. Leibfried, E. Knill, M. D. Barrett, R. B. Blakestad, W. M. Itano, J. D. Jost, C. Langer, R. Ozeri, T. Schaetz and D. J. Wineland. 2005. Implementation of the semiclassical quantum Fourier transform in a scalable system. Science. May 13, 2005. |