A quantum computer built using giant atoms controlled by laser light may be enough to imitate some functions of the brain, according to a post of New Scientist, published on Instagram.

These brain functions include memory and decision-making.⁠

Rodrigo Araiza Bravo, Physics PhD candidate at Harvard University and his colleagues used computer simulations to show that a new type of quantum computer could be built out of rubidium Rydberg atoms.

Why are Rydberg atoms?

The Rydberg atom is an excited atom with one or more electrons that have a very high principal quantum number, n. The higher the value of n, the farther the electron is from the nucleus, on average.

In fact these atoms are super-sized in diameter because some of their electrons orbit the nuclei at a large distance, and they are extremely sensitive to light so can be very precisely controlled by lasers.

The researchers found in the simulations that lasers could make six Rydberg atoms act like a neural network – an artificially intelligent algorithm that imitates neurons and synapses in the brain. In the theoretical quantum computer, quantum states of the outermost electron in a Rydberg atom correspond to the states of a brain’s neuron, like whether the neuron is firing or inactive.

The team showed that the quantum computer would be able to exhibit basic decision-making and memory.

You can read the full story on New Scientist.

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