August 25, 2006


Quantronium are superconducting qubits created in France that Dwave purchased the rights to in 2003

The quantronium circuit is a superconducting quantum bit (qubit) made of aluminum and aluminum oxide. It includes two small tunnel junctions and a larger one inserted in a superconducting loop. The small junctions define a superconducting island capacitively coupled to a gate electrode. By applying microwave pulses to the gate, the quantronium can be prepared in any coherent superposition of its two lowest energy eigenstates, i.e. the two qubit states. These two qubit states are characterized by persistant currents flowing around the loop in opposite directions. The current loop, and consequently the quantronium state, is measured by applying a pulse of current to the large junction. This circuit has been successfully operated at 15 mK at the end of year 2001.

Dwave has improved upon the quantroniu qubit design.

Nanowires connected to neurons

Opening a whole new interface between nanotechnology and neuroscience, scientists at Harvard University have used slender silicon nanowires to detect, stimulate, and inhibit nerve signals along the axons and dendrites of live mammalian neurons.

Harvard chemist Charles M. Lieber and colleagues report on this marriage of nanowires and neurons this week in the journal Science.

"We describe the first artificial synapses between nanoelectronic devices and individual mammalian neurons, and also the first linking of a solid-state device -- a nanowire transistor -- to the neuronal projections that interconnect and carry information in the brain," says Lieber, the Mark Hyman, Jr., Professor of Chemistry in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "These extremely local devices can detect, stimulate, and inhibit propagation of neuronal signals with a spa-tial resolution unmatched by existing techniques."

Because the nanowires are so slight -- their contact with a neuron is no more than 20 millionths of a meter in length -- Lieber and colleagues were able to measure and manipulate electrical conductance at as many as 50 locations along a single axon.

The current work involves measurement of signals only within single mammalian neurons; the researchers are now working toward monitoring signaling among larger networks of nerve cells. Lieber says the devices could also eventually be configured to measure or detect neurotransmitters, the chemicals that leap synapses to carry electrical impulses from one neuron to another.

"This work could have a revolutionary impact on science and technology," Lieber says. "It provides a powerful new approach for neuroscience to study and manipulate signal propagation in neuronal networks at a level unmatched by other techniques; it provides a new paradigm for building sophisticated interfaces between the brain and external neural prosthetics; it represents a new, powerful, and flexible approach for real-time cellular assays useful for drug discovery and other applications; and it opens the possibility for hybrid circuits that couple the strengths of digital nanoelectronic and biological computing components."

August 24, 2006

Carbon Fibers Make Tiny, Cheap Video Displays

hahyaan Desai, a Cornell graduate student has created a practical MEMS video display device based on carbon fibers.

Carbon fiber rods supporting this tiny mirror can be made to bend up to 90 degrees millions of times without showing fatigue. The technology could be used to create a video projector on a chip.

Desai has built an optical scanner consisting of a tiny rectangular mirror measuring 400 by 500 microns, supported by two carbon-fiber hinges about 55 microns across. Made to oscillate at 2.5 kHz, the tiny mirror caused a laser beam to scan across a range of up to 180 degrees, corresponding to a 90-degree bend by the carbon fibers.

An oscillating mirror could be used to scan a laser beam across a screen, and an array of mirrors, one for each horizontal line, could produce an image in the same way that a moving electron beam creates an image on a television screen.

"It would be an incredibly cheap display," Desai said. And the entire device would be small enough to build into a cell phone to project an image on a wall.

Besides serving as oscillators, the researchers said, carbon fibers could be made into clock springs that either unwind slowly to power a micromachine over a period of time or unwind rapidly to provide a sudden burst of power, or used as micro-sized pendulums that could harvest energy from motion like a mechanical self-winding watch to make cell phones, PDAs and even watches that are powered by the user's movement.

August 23, 2006

Telomere repair treatments near (2-5 years)

Chromosomal telomere repair treatment is near. Ultimately this could produce new ways to reverse aging in tissues and organs, and new treatments that may one day cure or even eradicate cancer. The hope of treatments for such age-related diseases as macular degeneration, osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, cirrhosis and
Progeria is right around the corner.

Commercially, telomere therapy has been successfully used to extend the
life span of cell cultures used in producing pharmaceuticals, growing
artificial corneas, and accelerating the healing process in skin grafts.
Sarad predicts cosmetic use of telomere therapy could be available within
two years, and may not require FDA approval. Other uses of telomere
therapy, as developed by Telomolecular, include regeneration of damaged
muscle and bone, accelerating wound healing, treating trauma disorders such
as strokes, growing replacement organs, and preventing cancer development
during stem cell therapy.
Treating macular degeneration, osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis and
cancer is a lengthy process taking months or years of therapy, often
unsuccessful. But with advancements in nanotechnology and molecular biology
such as those achieved at Telomolecular, it's conceivable that treatment of
these diseases may soon involve only a single, routine outpatient visit to
a hospital or clinic. And shortly after that, preventative treatments may
eliminate those diseases completely.

Previously misspelled: telomere repair as telemere repair.


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Digital control of microscopic amounts of chemicals

A pdf that describes digital control of reacting chemicals in microreactors This was featured in nanodot

This enables faster work and more accurate results. Faster technological progress should be enabled.

It is now feasible to handle complicated chemical processes in a microreactor in an automated fashion. From concept to working chip, each microreactor takes less than three working days to construct because of the use of soft lithography.

Global climate stabilization wedges

Scientific American provides a long term analysis of global warming in this months issue Global Electricity usage is projected to increase by 160% by 2050 from 15 trillion kwatt-hrs per year to over 40 trillion kw-hrs.

The problem is the carbon dioxide that we need to make that much energy from now to 2056. In order to stop/stabilize our carbon production we need to reduce carbon dioxide by 175 billion tons of C02.
This is seven stabilization wedges of 25 billion tons each. It is useful to think of these wedges since we can use different means to make achieve each wedge. Each wedge reduction would make a significant impact.

Eight wedges might be
1. Carbon sequestering
2. Double nuclear power
3. Change cars from an average of 30mpg to 60mpg
4. 40 times our current wind power
5. 1000 times our current solar power - reducing need for coal plants
6/7. More energy efficient buildings, industry
8. A lot of biofuels

Reduce carbon usage to stay within a budget of allowable carbon to not increase temperature by more than 2 degrees. The US would have a smaller carbon budget than the global budget and smaller wedges.

You could depend on one of the approaches to take care of more of the carbon but it would be faster, more pragmatic and more practical to scale up several approaches at the same time.

A terawatt--one million megawatts--of "carbon-free" power is the scale needed to make a significant dent in projected carbon dioxide emissions at midcentury. In the terms used by Socolow and Pacala, that contribution would correspond to one to two of the seven required "stabilization wedges." Reaching a terawatt of nuclear power by 2050 is certainly challenging, requiring deployment of about 2,000 megawatts a month. A capital investment of $2 trillion over several decades is called for, and power plant cost reduction, nuclear waste management and a proliferation-resistant international fuel cycle regime must all be addressed aggressively over the next decade or so.

Advance in cooling chips

The University of Washington have created an ion pump cooling device that utilizes an electrical field to accelerate air to speeds previously possible only with the use of traditional blowers. Trial runs showed that the prototype device significantly cooled an actively heated surface on just 0.6 watts of power.

The prototype cooling chip contains two basic components: an emitter and a collector. The emitter has a tip radius of about 1 micron – so small that up to 300 tips could fit across a human hair. The tip creates air ions, electrically charged particles that are propelled in an electric field to the collector surface. As the ions travel from tip to collector, they create an air jet that blows across the chip, taking heat with it. The volume of the airflow can be controlled by varying the voltage between the emitter and collector.

The findings are significant for future computing applications, which will incorporate denser circuitry to boost computing power. More circuitry equals more heat and a greater need for innovative cooling technologies that go beyond bulky, noisy and relatively inefficient fans and heat sinks – metal plates with fins to increase surface area and help dissipate heat. Circulating liquids among the chips to draw away heat is one possibility, but computer chips and liquids don't mix well; the cost of a cooling system breakdown could be steep.

"Our goal is to develop advanced cooling systems that can be built right onto next-generation microchips," Jewell-Larsen said. "Such systems could handle both the increased heat generation of future chips and the fact that they would be distributed throughout a computer or electronic device." Added Mamishev: "It promises a new dimension in thermal management strategy and design."

A few challenges remain, he added. One involves developing the mathematical models to control vast systems of chips with built-in coolers. "These pumps end up being very complicated, dynamic systems," Mamishev said. "You have flow on a microscale, electrohydrodynamic forces, electrical fields and moving charges."

A second challenge is identifying the best materials to use in building devices that are high-performing and durable. "There is evidence that nanotubes and other nano-structures could give significant performance gains," Jewell-Larsen said. "Those are avenues we are currently pursuing."

August 22, 2006

DIY Nuke Detector Patrols SF Bay

DIY nuclear detector The freelancers began by running a San Francisco Police Department patrol boat around local shipping lanes while using a common 1-inch-diameter Ranger sodium iodide detector to measure the background radiation at 23 separate locations, from the San Francisco Lightship Buoy down into the Oakland container docks and the Richmond oil docks.

Encouraged, and armed with this background radiation survey to reduce false alarms, the team is now testing a homemade detector based on a 4-inch by 4-inch by 16-inch sodium iodide crystal, custom grown by Saint Gobain, a subsidiary of Compagnie de Saint-Gobain headquartered in Paris. It is the same technology used in many monitors currently deployed at ports around the country. It will also be used in most of the new Advanced Spectroscopic Portals being purchased by DHS.

"The crystal is like Frodo's sword," explained a Glaros collaborator. "It starts to glow when the bad stuff's around, kind of a blue fluorescence."

Faced with a large-crystal scanner, terrorists would find it extremely difficult to hide 10 kilograms of uranium 235, the amount needed to construct a first-generation Chinese- or Pakistani-designed weapon. To shield it, a terrorist "would have to get a shit load of lead bricks and put the source inside," said Glaros. Theoretically, the device could also detect a Soviet-era, plutonium-fueled suitcase bomb.

Dwave superconducting quantum computer patents

Looks like the first two patents that I list are the most relevant to what they are doing. A series of josephson junction loops. Based on funding and progress I am thinking 32-40 qubits when they release and 100-200 qubits within a year or so after. (just a guess/gut feel from looking at the research papers.)

Multi-junction phase qubit patent quantum computer patent Rose, Geordie.

In one embodiment, a two-junction phase qubit includes a superconducting loop and two Josephson junctions separated by a mesoscopic island on one side and a bulk loop on another side. The material forming the superconducting loop is a superconducting material with an order parameter that violates time reversal symmetry. In one embodiment, a two-junction phase qubit includes a loop of superconducting material, the loop having a bulk portion and a mesoscopic island portion. The loop further includes a relatively small gap located in the bulk portion. The loop further includes a first Josephson junction and a second Josephson junction separating the bulk portion from the mesoscopic island portion. The superconducting material on at least one side of the first and second Josephson junctions has an order parameter having a non-zero angular momentum in its pairing symmetry. In one embodiment, a qubit includes a superconducting loop having a bulk loop portion and a mesoscopic island portion. The superconducting loop further includes first and second Josephson junctions separating the bulk loop portion from the mesoscopic island portion. The superconducting loop further includes a third Josephson junction in the bulk loop portion. In one embodiment, the third Josephson junction has a Josephson energy relatively larger than a Josephson energy of the first and second Josephson junctions.

Quantum processing system for a superconducting phase qubit

A control system for an array of qubits is disclosed. The control system according to the present invention provides currents and voltages to qubits in the array of qubits in order to perform functions on the qubit. The functions that the control system can perform include read out, initialization, and entanglement. The state of a qubit can be determined by grounding the qubit, applying a current across the qubit, measuring the resulting potential drop across the qubit, and interpreting the potential drop as a state of the qubit. A qubit can be initialized by grounding the qubit and applying a current across the qubit in a selected direction for a time sufficient that the quantum state of the qubit can relax into the selected state. In some embodiments, the qubit can be initialized by grounding the qubit and applying a current across the qubit in a selected direction and then ramping the current to zero in order that the state of the qubit relaxes into the selected state. The states of two qubits can be entangled by coupling the two qubits through a switch. In some embodiments, the switch that is capable of grounding the qubits can also be utilized for entangling selected qubits.

Pregrant abstract

A method of simulating a molecular system using a hybrid computer is provided. The hybrid computer comprises a classical computer and a quantum computer. The method uses atomic coordinates {right arrow over (R)}n and atomic charges Zn of a molecular system to compute a ground state energy of the molecular system using the quantum computer. The ground state energy is returned to the classical computer and the atomic coordinates are geometrically optimized on the classical computer based on information about the returned ground state energy of the atomic coordinates in order to produce a new set of atomic coordinates {right arrow over (R)}?n for the molecular system. These steps are optionally repeated in accordance with a refinement algorithm until a predetermined termination condition is achieved

Superconducting dot/anti-dot flux qubit based on time-reversal symmetry breaking effects

A Business 2.0 feature on Gordie Rose from 2004 He stated a goal of 32 qubits as powerful as a Cray cluster, but now he may be shooting for 36-38 qubits to get up to the best current supercomputers (petaflop MD Grape3)

Dwave superconducting quantum continued

D-wave computers are a variant of adiabatic quantum computation (AQC).

The way the AQC model works is that you build an array of qubits (say a square grid for example) with programmable couplers between qubits (see here for some published info on one of D-Wave’s programmable couplers). The settings of these couplers, together with individual biases (favoring one qubit state over the other) on each qubit, comprise the machine language of an AQC. The user of the AQC (1) starts the machine with all of the couplers turned off and all of the local biases favoring the 0 qubit state; (2) turns on a tunneling term between the qubit states of each qubit; (3) slowly turns off the tunneling term while tuning the couplers and local biases to their target values; (4) measures the final states of the qubits.

Here is a paper that discusses the power of adiabatic quantum computation.

Adiabatic quantum computation is a novel paradigm for the design of quantum algorithms — it is truly quantum in the sense that it can be used to speed up searching by a quadratic factor over any classical algorithm. On the question of whether this new paradigm may be used to efficiently solve NP-complete problems on a quantum computer — we showed that the usual query complexity arguments cannot be used to rule out a polynomial time solution. On the other hand, we argue that the adiabatic approach may be thought of as a kind of ‘quantumlocal search’. We designed a family of minimization problems that is hard for such local search heuristics, and established an exponential lower bound for the adiabatic algorithmfor these problems. This provides insights into the limitations of this approach. In an upcoming paper [5], we generalize these techniques to show a similar exponential slowdown for 3SAT. It remains an open question whether adiabatic quantum computation can establish an exponential speed-up over traditional computing or if there exists a classical algorithm that can simulate the quantum adiabatic process efficiently.

It seems the number of qubits is critical temperature dependent. Dwave made theirs out of nobium (which has a lower critical temp 9.6K) and has alloys with critical temperatures up to about 23K.

Another paper "Adiabatic Quantum Computation is Equivalent to Standard Quantum Computation"

Building scalable Adiabatic quantum computers using superconductors is discussed in this paper and this paper

From the first paper on scaling superconducting AQC:
the maximum number of qubits at operating temperature T is {function} ... the energy gap of the problem Hamiltonian .... max number of qubits using advanced josephson junctions and higher temperature superconductors could be hundreds or thousands.

Self-assembling metal nano-boxes

Microscopic metal boxes that hold a few nanolitres of liquid each have been developed by US researchers. They say the tiny containers could someday be used for precision chemistry or even drug delivery inside the body.

The tiny boxes are made from flat templates that self-assemble due to liquid surface tension during the production process. Once constructed, they can be also moved around remotely using magnetic fields. This means they could carry small chemical samples around or possibly even deliver drugs within the human body, the researchers say.

"We have shown that we can bring two or more of them together to allow the chemicals they hold to react," explains researcher David Gracias, a chemical engineer at Johns Hopkins University, US.

The sides of each box are made using an established manufacturing method called electrodeposition. This involves chemically depositing layers of nickel on top of a polymer-coated silicon wafer and then applying an electric current to bind them together.

They have built nano-containers with capacities ranging from 230 picolitres (trillionths of a litre) to 8 nanolitres (billionths of a litre). The boxes are reconfigurable and an alternative to microfluidic chips.

Synthetic Biology: PTL Logic

Post-Translational Logic (PTL) devices regulate the post-translational modifications of proteins to define system state and control cell function. Current synthetic biological circuits make use of protein-DNA and RNA-RNA interactions to control gene expression in bacteria-- such circuits are examples of Transcription-based Logic.

This is an area where Samantha Sutton of MIT is a leading researcher.
The BioBricks Foundation awarded Samantha Sutton the prize of Best Device at the Synthetic Biology 2.0 confernce. Sutton works in the Endy Lab.

A brief comparison of the two types of logic is as follows:

Transcription-based Logic

* Engineered around gene expression
* Typical parts: transcriptional regulators, translational regulators
* Typical signal: PoPS, resulting in desired cellular concentrations of proteins.
* Easier to engineer than PTL
* Slow response time (hours)
* Uses one subset of cellular functions


* Engineered around protein modifications
* Typical parts: kinases, phosphorylation sites, docking sites
* Typical signal: rate of modification, resulting in desired state of proteins.
* More difficult to engineer than Transcription-based logic.
* Fast response time (seconds)
* Explores a new set of applications

Openwetware community portal is a place where synthetic biology information is shared

Openwetware has tutorials, Materials used, and equipment at various labs

August 21, 2006

Company will work on thorium based reactors

Northamerican Energy Group Corporation (Pink Sheets:NNYG) announced today that it has signed an agreement with Bayport Corporation of Tulsa, Oklahoma, to establish a wholly owned division of Northamerican Energy, which will research, and develop, both Thorium-based nuclear power generation facilities, and Thorium-based power cells.

It is estimated that 225 of the 444 commercial nuclear power plants in operation worldwide are suitable candidates for conversion to Thorium/uranium fuel and those possibilities to build new, or convert existing, power plants in foreign countries such as Africa, South America, China and other Asian countries will also be explored as part of potential business opportunities.

Thorium reactors leave behind very little plutonium, meaning that governments have as much as 80% reduced availability to weapons-grade plutonium for the making of nuclear weapons.

Thorium Power is another company making Thorium reactors

It would be better if they made liquid fluoride thorium reactors

More superconducting quantum computer details

The Dwave systems superconducting quantum computer is designed only for Maximum Clique NP-complete problems. This is the same as Maximum Independent Set and Minimum Vertex Cover.

Max Clique is known to be “really really hard”, in the sense that it is intractable to even get good approximate solutions. It is APX complete

From one of the comments by Gordon Rose on his prior posts:
1. (for experts): The machine we’re building is NOT a conventional classical RSFQ processor. My post (aimed primarily at beginners) was just to provide information on some history of superconducting processors as context for later posts.

2. (sort of for experts): The machines we’re building are real quantum computers, yes with real qubits and everything. I’m going to describe quite a bit about the processor architecture in follow on posts so stay tuned.

3. (for experts): Again this is something I’m going to describe at length in a follow on post, but I’d like to flag it here because it was raised in a couple of comments. There is more than one model of quantum computation, and the one most people are familiar with is the “gate model”. Our machines are not gate model machines. They use a different underlying (but equivalent) computational model.
[Tutorial on quantum computing models]
Tutorial on quantum computing principles

4. About the low power comment: It doesn’t take much more power than what you get out of a wall socket to cool a chip to milliKelvin and keep it there. The fridges, even though they look imposing, draw very little power.

5. [refuting marketing claims] [my note: Dwave systems has raised $20+ million.]

6. About our name: Although we’re called D-Wave everything we do is built using niobium (which is not a D-Wave superconductor).

Quantum Computer Summary

Details about Dwave Systems superconducting quantum computer

Link to paper on superconducting computer potential

Electron spin quantum computing breakthrough Burkard says electron-spin qubits could now rapidly catch up with more established methods of quantum computing. "I see no roadblocks to moving towards the first implementation of small quantum algorithms using electron-spin qubits," he says.

Ovonic Quantum control device. Not a quantum computer but enables all thin film computers and could be better than transistors in many cases. They have neuron like features.

Quantum algorithm introduction. Exponentially better for fourier transform

Ion trap quantum computer could scale to thousands of qubits

Laser tweezers sort atoms to help enable quantum computers

Electron bubbles could enable 100+ qubit quantum computers

Possible path to room temperature quantum information processing

12 qubit quantum computer

Original background information on my quantum computing predictions Also, has a link to the 2004 quantum computing roadmap.

My predictions article from early 2006.
Originally predicted.
Quantum computing 100 qubits 2010-2014
Quantum computing 1000 qubits 2015-2020

I am now more optimistic. 100 qubits could happen as soon as 2007. [Now it appears to be 2008 for over 100 qubits. The company is targeting 1024 qubits]
Maybe 1000 qubits by 2009-2012. Could scale up to lot more with three to five competing technologies. (superconductors, ion traps, electron spin, electron bubble and one of the dark horse tech - solid state, optical, cavity QED, neutral atom, nuclear magnetic resonance). Plus spending $200+ million for a super quantum computer with tens of thousands or millions of qubits is conceivable if it were just a matter of building them and there were no technical limitations.

More details on the patents for the dwave superconducting computer A series of josephson junction loops (multi-junction phase). Based on funding and progress I am thinking 32-40 qubits when they release, with the potential for hundreds and thousands of qubits. [They released a 16 qubit demo, although a 32 qubit upgraded demo is expected before the end of 2007]

D-wave computers are a variant of adiabatic quantum computation (AQC). Links to papers about the potential of such systems.

The Dwave systems superconducting quantum computer is designed only for Maximum Clique NP-complete problems. This is the same as Maximum Independent Set and Minimum Vertex Cover.