The race to create superfast computers is accelerating. A rethink of one of the most fundamental parts of a quantum computer could pave the way for ultra-powerful devices. Andrea Morello at the University of New South Wales in Australia and his colleagues have a design for a qubit – the smallest unit of quantum information – that could help get round some of the difficulties of manufacturing quantum computers at an atomic scale. At the moment, making quantum systems using silicon is difficult because the qubits have to be very close to each other, about 10 to 20 nanometres apart, in order to communicate. This leaves little room to place the electronics needed to make a quantum computer work.