Quantum scientists at IBM Research have announced major advances in quantum computing that could place real, practical quantum computers in businesses and homes within the next 10 years.

The main breakthrough revolves around the long-term integrity of qubits. To perform quantum computing, you need to be able to reliably store and interrogate qubits. However, qubits are incredibly flighty in nature readily changing their state through decoherence. IBM has created a high-coherence 3D qubit that retains its state for up to 100 microseconds, or 0.1 milliseconds. This is stable enough and engineers can now scale up the number of qubits to create a quantum logic computer.

In a separate experiment, IBM created a 3-qubit chip (die pictured right; complete chip above) using conventional semiconductor fabrication techniques, which was then used to perform a controlled-NOT logic operation with a 95% success rate. This kind of success rate is unheard of in quantum computers, and again comes down to the fact that IBM has managed to create qubits with relatively high stability (10 microseconds in this case). IBM is confident that this experiment paves the way to multi-qubit logic chips.

According to IBM, 250 qubits would be able to store more bits of information than there are atoms in the universe. When you factor in that a quantum computer could perform logic on all of that data, in parallel, instantaneously, it means the performance of a supercomputer on a single chip.