Scientists at the University of California, Riverside; MIT and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology have observed evidence of Majorana fermions. These are particles theorised to also be their own antiparticle. Discovered to exist on the surface of a common metal: gold. This is the first sighting of Majorana fermions on a platform that can potentially be scaled up. The importance lies in their ability to be used to construct quantum bits or qubits.
Quantum computing researchers aim to use a specific kind of Majorana fermion, known as a Majorana zero mode as the Quantum Computing element known as a qubit. In classical terms, a Majorana zero mode is similar to half an electron. Researchers are exploring ways in which these quasi particles can be configured to build qubits.
Published in the prestigious journal PNAS (Signature of a pair of Majorana zero modes in superconducting gold surface states), the recent breakthrough might open the door to building new types of qubits that could open the door to breakthroughs in Quantum Computing. Microsoft in particular is interested in developing Majorana qubits for its Quantum Computing effort.