Every so often, the thing you’ve been looking for all along is right under your nose. Like the latest material to offer itself up as the future of quantum computing — which has been sitting on banknotes for decades.
Research published in Nature suggests that a common blue pigment, which is used in the British £5 note, can be used as a low-cost organic semiconductor, ideal for use in quantum computing. The pigment, which is called copper phthalocyanine, has electrons that can remain in a state known as ‘superposition’ — a quantum effect, where each particle exists in two states at once.
Other materials have that property too, but crucially — and unlike others — copper phthalocyanine is abundant and can be easily processed into thin films, perfect for fabricating devices. Indeed, those films should be ideal for the production of qubits — the quantum version of binary bits — that power quantum computers.
The researchers point out that it seems just as attractive as rarer and more expensive molecules that have been suggested in the past, but is far more common. And there’s a pleasant irony in the fact that a material found in money could actually save scientists some cash. [Nature via UCL]