Using five only five atoms, scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Innsbruck in Austria have developed the first scalable quantum computer. The new quantum computer was able to solve a mathematical problem. Yet researchers claim that this technology is scalable beyond factoring prime numbers, according to a paper published on Friday in the journal Science.

The findings from MIT researchers along with the University of Innsbruck signify a breakthrough in modern science, as it will definitely change the way society codes sensitive or confidential information. In an interview for the journal Science, the MIT research group claimed they had developed a prototype of a Quantum computer using five atoms held in an ion trap.

A quantum computer chip can process information several orders of magnitude faster than an ordinary silicon computer chip. Credit: Erick Lucero/ Live Science

As quantum computers are considered the next generation of computing, their superior mathematical skills could sooner or later crack the security of current encryption schemes. It’s worth noticing that nowadays, the digital data is protected by a public key cryptography, an encryption method that depends on the complexity of factoring large numbers even for the fastest super computers in the world.

Online privacy under menace

However secure people think their information is, the usual encryptions will not suffice as the quantum computers could allow the factoring of incredibly large numbers at a faster rate than current supercomputers. Furthermore, considering the fact researchers claim there aren’t any physical restrictions on the quantum computer’s scalability, the findings could pose a threat to encrypted data.

The vas majority of web security protocols rely on RSA encryption, where access to data is secured with two keys. The first key or ‘encryption key’ is public while the other is the ‘decryption key’ that keeps the information secret. The cryptosystem used to code information could possibly become obsolete in a matter of years, considering the rapid evolution of technology.

The study used the algorithm to factor large numbers with a quantum computer attributed to Peter Shor, a math professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Although Shor was able to come up with the algorithm as far back as 1994, he had no way to test its accuracy at the moment.

MIT physicist and electrical engineer, Isaac Chuang used the algorithm created over 20 years ago in the tests for the quantum computer. Using Shor’s algorithm in order to test the quantum computer threw outstanding results as it could successfully calculate the factors of 15. And even if the solution takes no more than a moment for 5th graders, the tests made by Chuang are surely possible to escalate well beyond complex mathematical problems.

Source: Computing