ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A lot has changed in the world of computing since the founders of Hewlett Packard delivered an early “computer” to Walt Disney Studios, optimizing a revolutionary sound experience in 1939 on their theatrical release of “Fantasia.”

Fast forward to 2023, and trillions of bytes can be found in your pocket, running your smartphone.  But what does the next generation of computers look like? 

The short answer is enchiladas.  Or, an “Enchilada Trap” to be precise. The miniscule device is known in the industry as an ion trap – the brains behind quantum computers, next-level technology that uses the building blocks of life to solve incredibly complex problems.  

Conventional computers run off of binary code a series of zeros and ones that create everything from simple spreadsheets to blockbuster feature films.  Quantum computers utilize quantum mechanics, which can create detailed models and predictors of technology that conventional computers would never be able to solve.  

“We live in a quantum world, where quantum mechanics defines how these different chemical interactions happen”, says Daniel Stick, a physicist at Sandia National Labs. “We make a lot of approximations with our classical computers.  A quantum computer, however, can simulate those things with greater accuracy because it itself is quantum.”    

While these massive machines may be next-gen, Stick says the probability of quantum computers being a household item down the road is slim. They require a lot of hardware to run, and at this point only excel on a few specific problems. 

Nonetheless, Stick says that the field of quantum computing plays a huge role in the development and research he and his team are doing at Sandia, adding the state “punches way above its weight” when it comes to emerging technology.