The Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Berkeley Lab is a unique resource that has many demanding experiments lined up to use it. The researchers there set up contraptions like the one illustrated to perform one experiment, then reconfigure the equipment for the next experiment. They have probably completely reworked the whole set-up by now :)
It kind of reminds me of my bedroom back when I was in high school. I was a very messy kid...
We still seem to be working the very low levels of quantum computers. Is the architectural structure that would use these low levels worked out? I can't imagine that this would be a Von Neumann architecture, so what would this beast we are calling a quantum computer look like? How would programmers write code to use it?
Most of the architecture work today is based on the assumption that massive error correciton algorithms will have to be implemented to deal with the unpredictability of quantum decoherence. However, if Majorana zero modes are found in this superconducting topological insulator, then decoherence will no longer a problem and more conventional architectures could prevail. We'll have to wait and see if Majorana zero modes are found and can be appropriatley harnessed.
Maybe I'm way off, but would these computers be subject to effects due to random alpha particle strikes? Would seem to me that error correction would be necessary in any case where alpha particles or other random high energy particles could interfeer with otherwise 'perfect' theoretical models. Anyone know?
Your may be right, but no one is sure how stable these Majorana zero modes will be. However, without them they will need error correction between each stage of a circuit, since quantum decoherence happens even without interference.
Well D-Wave has the advantage of being here now, but is a specialized solution only useful for certain tasks, whereas if the topological insulators are found to have usable Majorana zero modes, then they would represent a comprehensive solution on which a quantum computer industry could be built. Of course, D-Wave is following all these promising research paths, so might even be first to make use of them.