In the not too distant future, even the most advanced data encryption systems could be broken with the help of a new type of computer, whose processor uses the principles of quantum mechanics to substantially increase the volume of processed data in unit time.
Tested by researchers of MIT, working in collaboration with the University of Innsbruck, this new type of quantum computer relies on “qubits” that can hold both values at the same time to interact with a group of 5 individual atoms suspended in an ionic trap, unlike conventional computing that uses bits which can only be either 1 or 2. The system is used to implement an algorithm developed in 1994 by a math teacher named Peter Shor, in order to allow the prime number factorization. Even in the above configuration, the system allows the implementation of Shor’s algorithm to calculate correctly the factors prime numbers up to 15, which is more quickly and more efficient than any traditional PC.
For the future, the challenge lies in increasing the number of atoms that can be used in a consistent manner, thereby improving the speed and complexity of the calculations.
Less encouraging news is that the advances are slow, the principles of quantum mechanics are still poorly understood, even if they have more than 100 years since the first mathematical formulas have been enunciated. Probably would be years until the decryption of data will be speeded up by using the principles of quantum mechanics.