January 3, 2018
Both the U.S. and China have invested billions in quantum physics, which promises a new era of computing and communications. In 2016, Europe, which lagged behind in the race, made an effort to catch up by investing one billion euros in its Quantum Technology Flagship research project, to develop quantum communication, quantum simulation, quantum computing, and quantum sensing. Now, a year-and-a-half after the European Commission’s announcement, it’s published the European Quantum Technologies Roadmap that reveals its progress.
MIT Technology Review reports that the document “outlines two emerging areas that have received less interest in other parts of the world – quantum software and quantum control,” which could “have significant implications for the future of European quantum technologies.”
Quantum communication, which “offers the ability to send data from one location to another with complete privacy,” is important as it enables secure communications, “one of the foundations of modern society, enabling e-commerce and ensuring the privacy of business, government, and military communications.”
Existing quantum communications systems “are expensive and complex to run,” and only work “over point-to-point connections of about 100 kilometers.” According to the report: “In 6 years, we will likely see [quantum communication systems] in test-bed networks, demonstrating long distances via trusted nodes, high altitude platform systems or satellites, as well as multi-node or switchable intra-city networks, all of which will require large-scale infrastructure projects to be initiated.”
Improvements in quantum computation focuses on scaling up from “just a few quantum bits, or qubits” to “100 qubits or more.” The Roadmap “outlines five potential ways of doing this, using systems that store and process quantum information in different ways,” with the expectation that “large-scale quantum processing using one or more of these technologies [will exist] within five to 10 years.”
With regard to quantum simulation, Engadget notes that theoretical physicist Richard Feynman (1918-1988), “suggested that interacting quantum systems could be efficiently simulated employing other precisely controllable quantum systems, even in many instances in which such a simulation task is expected to be inefficient for standard classical computers,” but it’s not clear how to do this.
Last, quantum metrology and imaging, “which is the ability to measure the quantum … is at various stages of development,” but not yet viable.