Ultrafast quantum computer could soon be a reality after scientists in the United Kingdom generated 10 billion bits of quantum entanglement in silicon for the first time. Entanglement is the main ingredient that promises to make quantum computers far more powerful than conventional ones.

Albert Einstein famously described quantum entanglement as spooky action at a distance. Objects that make up a system are linked in such a way that the quantum state of any object cannot be adequately described without also describing the other, even if they are miles apart.

Stephanie Simmons of Oxford University and the first author of the study says the key to generating entanglement was to first align all the spins by using high magnetic fields and low temperatures. Once this has been achieved, the spins can be made to interact with each other using carefully timed microwave and radiofrequency pulses to create the entanglement, and then prove that it has been made.

The scientists used high magnetic fields and low temperatures to produce entanglement between the electron and the nucleus of an atom of phosphorous embedded in a highly purified silicon crystal. The electron and the nucleus behave as a tiny magnet, or 'spin', each of which can represent a bit of quantum information. These spins can interact with each other to be coaxed into an entangled state - the most basic state that cannot be mimicked by a conventional computer, scientists say.

Creating 10 billion entangled pairs in silicon with high fidelity is an important step forward for us, said John Morton of Oxford University and co-autor of the study. We now need to deal with the challenge of coupling these pairs together to build a scalable quantum computer in silicon.