Microsoft Research: Station Q at UCSB and the future of computing: Moore did not predict the power of a qubit!
What will computers look like in the future and how will they function? The answer to these questions could be the quantum computer, the most powerful computing device the world has ever known. But creating such a computer is no easy feat. One of the biggest challenges lies in the delicate temperament of the most basic component of the quantum computer: the qubit. In a conventional computer, transistors store bits of information and each bit has a value of either a 1 or 0. The power to motivate a bit is electricity. With a quantum computer, the classical bit gives way to a quantum bit, or qubit. Qubits are very sensitive to their environment, and are not stored in transistors; rather, they can be stored in a quantum mechanical state such as a photon polarization, electron spin, or in even more exotic degrees of freedom.