This paper reports on a promising technology for constructing an ultrapowerful quantum computer, called the ion trap. Researchers have found a way to build ion traps from semiconductors in much the same way as computer chips. By linking several of these ion trap chips, researchers are able to manipulate much larger numbers of ions and demonstrate rudimentary components of a quantum computer over the next few years. A major benefit of chip-based ion traps is that they could be combined into large arrays. The goal is to create a big switchyard in which hundreds or thousands of ions are constantly being shuttled around in small groups, controlled by conventional electronics.