Quantum computers are based on principles of quantum mechanics – and they are fast, very fast.
The new supercomputers could crack many established encryption methods in a matter of moments that would take billions of years for conventional computers. But they are also particularly accurate and efficient in solving optimization problems. No matter whether it's about route planning in traffic or placing mobile phone masts, fighting tumors in medicine or 3-D printing. However, a decade or more will probably pass before the time comes. Because quantum computers are very demanding. They work best in the laboratory at -273 degrees Celsius and when well protected from vibrations.
So far, so good. But what is quantum mechanics? It is the physics of the smallest parts. It considers single electrons also as waves. Quantum mechanics describes the location of an electron with probabilities. Yes, it can even be that an electron is in two places at the same time. For computer technology this means: The storage space is much larger. What is a bit in a computer is a quantum bit for a quantum computer, or a qubit for short. A bit represents a unit of information – namely 0 or 1. A qubit represents two units of information – 0 and 1. Twice as much. With further bits and qubits the difference gets even bigger: 10 bits describe 10 information units, 10 qubits already 1024. Google has developed a quantum computer with 72 qubits: Bristlecone is currently one of the most powerful chips in the world.