Stanford physicists have developed a quantum microphone that can detect individual sound particles at an atomic level, or in other words, the smallest known unit of sound, called phonons, which refers to packets of vibrational energy. This may lead to the development of even more efficient quantum computers. Previously, measuring phonons had been nearly impossible due to the inability of traditional microphones ability to pick up the sounds. So, rather than relying on the measurement of sound waves, this device measures the energy of phonons directly using minuscule resonators that act as mirrors for sound caused by vibrations.
This new type of quantum computer would have the ability to detect small packets of sound, enabling devices which encode information using sound energy to allow for storage of massive amounts of data in a minuscule machine.
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“Right now, people are using photons to encode these states. We want to use phonons, which brings with it a lot of advantages. Our device is an important step toward making a ‘mechanical quantum mechanical’ computer,” said lead author of the paper, Amir Safavi-Naeini.