MIT professor Frank Wilczek is primarily a high energy physicist (he won, together with D.Gross and H.D. Politzer, the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics, for discovering a high energy physics phenomenon, viz. the asymptotic freedom of the strong force). However, Wilczek is also interested in anyons.
Many scientists believe that non-abelian anyons would make good qubits because they would be inherently insensitive to external decohering noise. Anyons are described by topological quantum field theories. Michael Freedman’s group Station Q at UCSB specializes in topological (anyonic) quantum computing. John Preskill’s Course 219 has a nice introduction to the subject of topological quantum computing.
A landmark proof
by Frank Wilczek (Physics 4, 10 (2011), February 7, 2011)
In this lucid, introductory, viewpoint article, Wilczek explains anyons, and he trumpets a recent paper by Parsa Bonderson, Victor Gurarie, and Chetan Nayak which “proves” something that had been hypothesized for a long time, but had eluded proof until now, that systems exhibiting the fractional quantum Hall effect can be used to produce non-abelian anyons. The “proof” is a physicist’s proof, and, as such, contains a lot of new computational methods that are bound to help scientists calculate things about such systems that nobody knew how to calculate before. The last sentence of Wilczek’s article is:
Now we eagerly await the next great step: experimental confirmation.
My main specialty in the QC field is quantum computer programming. I try to write QC programs in a platform-independent way; i.e, a way that is independent of which particular qubit realization eventually wins the grand race for a scalable QC. Whether that be anyons or any of the many other realizations currently being tried. Nevertheless, I am always excited to learn about theory and experiments for any particular realization, such as anyons.
I hope trumpeting the connection between quantum computing and topological quantum field theories will help to attract high energy and solid state physicists into the QC field.