Physicists have created quantum units of information that operate with some of the lowest levels of error ever seen.

David Lucas at the University of Oxford, UK, and his colleagues trapped ions of the rare isotope calcium-43 with electric fields and manipulated them with lasers and microwaves, forming 'quantum bits' or qubits. Their set-up was robust enough to outside interference that the qubits kept their fragile quantum states for 50 seconds and errors arose only once in every 1 million operations, 10 times better than previous demonstrations.

Because correcting codes can overcome these very low levels of error, the authors say that their qubits are accurate enough to be used in quantum computing. However, linking up many of these qubits in a scalable system remains a challenge.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, 220501 (2014)