Quantum Technology #ST8 [fr]
CSIRO publishes its recommendations and priorities for the development of the Australian quantum technology sector while France is actively participating to the European program for research on quantum technologies
CSIRO publishes its recommendations and priorities for the development of the Australian quantum technology sector
CSIRO, the Commonwealth scientific and industrial research organisation, has released in May 2020 a roadmap for the development of the Australian quantum technology sector, which, according to its conclusions, is expected to support 16,000 jobs and generate $4 billion in GDP per year for the country by 2040.
Many quantum technologies have emerged as a result of improved knowledge and control of the behaviour of quantum particles and their quantum states. These technologies include precision sensors, secure communication, and quantum computing. Many countries, such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, India, China or Russia, are investing heavily in this field. Publicly available data show a four-fold increase in public and private investment between 2012 and 2017. This report therefore urges the government to support the sector to capitalise on its already emerging quantum industry and secure its position on the world market.
Australian capabilities in the sector
Australia has been investing in quantum technologies for several decades and has developed recognized research and training capabilities, contributing to many technological advances.
- blueprints for major quantum computing hardware platforms,
- building blocks for optical-based quantum computing,
- quantum simulation algorithms,
- quantum communication networks,
- critical components for quantum sensing technologies
In 2011, two centres of excellence were selected in this area and their funding, renewed in 2017, now exceeds $80 million.
- The Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology aims to develop quantum processor technologies for secure information transfer. This center collaborates, among others, with the University of Paris 6 and the University of Pierre and Marie Curie.
- The Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems intends to explore quantum technologies applied to health systems, economics, environment or security. This centre is linked to the CNRS NEEL Institute and the Paris Observatory.
The country has also developed a quantum technology industry with many start-ups and young companies, for example:
- Quintessencelabs develops cybersecurity solutions
- Silicon Quantum Computing has produced silicon-based qubits for processors
- Q-Ctrl has launched software adaptable to quantum technologies
- The CSIRO incubation program (CSIRO’s ON Accelerate Program) also projects to commercialise technologies developed outside of research organisations.
The CSIRO report identifies a number of areas where quantum technologies would play a disruptive role, and outlines the priority fields to make these advances. Quantum computing, quantum sensing, and quantum communications are highlighted.
- Quantum computing
Quantum computing uses quantum phenomena that open up new possibilities for data storage and management, using precisely engineered systems: quantum bits, or Q-bits. These systems could allow to exceed the limits of conventional supercomputers, with a multiplied power of calculation. Modelling and simulation of the chemical and mechanical properties of different molecules would become possible in the search for new drugs or for the development of specific materials. Many developments would also become accessible in the fields of machine learning, or processing complex systems such as traffic management, weather predictions, epidemiology, or energy grid optimisation.
- Quantum sensing
The quantum effects are very sensitive to the environment and allow the development of sensors, as well as measurements of time and space with high precision: atomic clocks, accelerometers (measuring acceleration) and gyrometers (measuring the rotational speed), magnetometers (measuring the intensity or direction of a magnetic field), etc. The applications that should result are multiple and their technologies are more matures than those of quantum computing. These include precision positioning and navigation systems, tools for underground exploration using quantum gravimetry, and nanoscale medical imaging devices for early diagnosis. Australia has developed the CSIRO LandTEM system, a portable magnetometer for the detection of underground ore deposits, as well as the CryoClock, an ultra-precise chronometer for quantum communications and computing.
- Quantum communications
Since quantum systems are disturbed during their measurement, any external interception will disrupt the system and be detectable. Thus, quantum properties open up possibilities to secure communications. The most advanced technology is the secure quantum key distribution, which delivers the key of the code in which the message is encrypted. The development of a quantum internet that would connect quantum sensors or computers is also a technology to explore. Finally, encryption algorithms that are resistant to the decoding potential of quantum computing will become necessary with the development of quantum computing capabilities to protect non-quantum systems. Since 2006, Australia has developed cyber security solutions within the start-up Quintessencelabs, and is exploring optical-based quantum network and quantum-resistant cryptography technologies.
Finally, the report stresses that an emerging quantum technology will have to be accompanied by the development of adapted technologies and services, as well as the training and consultations with the whole quantum industry’s sector.
The report recommendations
The CSIRO report proposes four axes to ensure the development of the sector:
- Defining and coordinating the Australian development effort
The development of a national strategy for the sector would enable the long-term priorities to be implemented and evaluated using indicators. The exploration of effective financing mechanisms is expected to help achieve technology commercialisation and growth in the sector. The report also recommends supporting entrepreneurship and research infrastructure in the sector.
- Building Australian capabilities
Australia will need to attract, train and retain the best talents in the sector, as well as establish a strategy for the development and growth of its skilled workforce. It will also need to assess and support critical industrial capabilities and infrastructure for the sector development. Cross-cutting links for research and training will have to be created with complementary sectors of quantum technologies; and ethical, social or environmental issues that may arise should be explored.
- Building local and international collaborations
The report recommends the establishment of multidisciplinary and multi-institutional collaborative relationships, but also the promotion of Australian national capabilities across the entire sector chain, particularly for critical materials supply, and for the definition of standards in quantum applications.
- Readiness for the quantum generation
To enable rapid penetration of quantum technologies, the report recommends a high degree of clarity regarding the implementation of defence trade control regulations, in order to reassure industries. It also encourages national and government users to become involved in the quantum ecosystem, and universities to streamline their intellectual property management system in order to foster collaboration, entrepreneurship and commercialization.
France is actively participating to the European program for research on quantum technologies
The European Future and Emerging Technology (FET) program has been financing quantum research in Europe since 1998, among other areas. In 2018, this program launched the Flagship Quantum Technologies, which allocates €1 billion over 10 years to develop applications of quantum technologies and strengthen partnerships between research and industry in this sector.
The priorities of this program reflect the areas identified in the Australian roadmap:
- quantum communication to ensure absolute security of communications
- quantum computing to create powerful computers
- quantum simulation, for the discovery of new drugs or materials
- metrology and quantum sensors, for the exploration of mining and petroleum resources or the analysis of the structure of molecules for medical applications.
- fundamental science, for all applications yet unsuspected
Among the 20 projects selected for this program, two are coordinated by French organizations, and about ten others involve French teams.
- The ASTERIQS (Advancing Science and TEchnology thRough dIamond Quantum Sensing) project aims to develop measurement tools of unprecedented sensitivity that can operate outside the laboratory. It is based on ultra-precise nucleus implantation techniques and atomic scale control of diamond structure. This project should make it possible to build tools for measuring magnetic or electric fields, temperatures or pressures. It is coordinated by Thales SA, and involves 23 partners across Europe, the United Kingdom and Jerusalem.
- The PhoQuS (Photons for Quantum Simulation) project explores the possibilities of quantum simulations based on the fluid behaviour of quantum photons. Once the characterization of the photon fluid at different regimes is completed, the system should be able to simulate the behavior of condensed matter, or answer questions on superconductivity, black hole physics, or quantum gravity. This project is coordinated by the University of Sorbonne and brings together 9 partners from Europe and the United Kingdom.
France is also participating in two European projects in the field of quantum communications, in particular the distribution of secure encryption keys, but also the development of high-performance photonic integrated circuits, or quantum communication networks (CiViQ project), or the design of a quantum internet and associated technologies (Quantum Internet Alliance project). France is also involved in research on quantum simulation using ultra-cold atoms (Qombs and PASQuans projects). Concerning metrology and quantum sensors, in addition to the ASTERIQS project that it coordinates, France is conducting research on sensors using atomic vapour cell technology to develop highly sensitive sensors of magnetic fields, time, rotation, electromagnetic radiation and gas concentration (macQsimal project). France is also participating in the aQtion (Advanced Quantum computing with trapped ions) project, which uses ion trap technology for the implementation of quantum processors. Finally, the country participates in fundamental research with two European projects, the QMiCS project, on the architecture necessary for the implementation of quantum communication protocols, and the Square project, on quantum computing, networking and communication technologies.
Altogether, 13 CNRS laboratories or research institutes, the University of Paris Diderot, the Mines-Telecom Institute, the iota-sup-optics theoretical and applied optics institute, the Ecole Normale Superieure (higher education institution) of Paris Saclay and Lyon, and companies such as Nokia Bell Labs France, Thales SA, My Cryo Firm, Bull sas, Muquans, and Azur Light Systems, are involved in French quantum research.