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Quantum technology gains global attention

wuzhenwic.org Updated: 2020-10-29


Diagram of Micius, the world's first quantum satellite. [Photo/China Daily]

Many countries have realized that quantum technology has the opportunity to lead a new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation. Some of them have invested heavily in supporting research on quantum technology, and many industry leaders have also decided to commercialize quantum technology in the near future.

Quantum technology is a frontier field. At present, the most mainstream application of quantum technology is superconducting computers and quantum communications.

According to the statistics of the Japanese intellectual property database Astamuse, the United States dominates paper research in the field of quantum computers, publishing 1,948 related papers from 2014 to 2018, with China ranking second with 1,495 papers published, followed by Germany, Britain, and Japan. In the field of quantum cryptography related to security, China is leading, with 2,169 papers published in the same period, twice that of the United States (1,051).

As early as the end of 2018, US President Donald Trump signed the National Quantum Initiative Act to accelerate the development and application of quantum technology in all aspects.

According to the bill, the US government plans to spend $1.28 billion in quantum information technology research in the next five years. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has received $400 million to formulate quantum technology development standards, the National Science Foundation has received $250 million to support talent construction, and the Department of Energy has received $625 million to establish quantum information research centers.

Private companies like Microsoft and Intel have been attracted to provide personnel and equipment to help establish the quantum information research centers, while tech giant IBM launched a quantum computer online summer camp in July this year, with 4,000 participants selected among 20,000 registrants.

In order to ensure that it stays at the forefront of quantum technology research, the United Kingdom will invest 1 billion pounds in the 10-year plan for the National Quantum Technology Project, which was launched in 2014, including the newly established National Quantum Computing Center (NQCC) that boasts a 93 million pound investment from UKRI, aiming to promote the commercialization of quantum technology.

In September this year, the British government announced that it would spend 10 million pounds to support the country's first quantum computer. The project is led by Rigetti, a California-based company, with joint participation from Oxford Instruments, Standard Chartered Bank, Phasecraft, and the University of Edinburgh.

In July of this year, Germany announced that the economic plan after the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic includes a special investment of 2 billion euros for building an experimental quantum computer by 2021. Moreover, the German government decided in 2018 to allocate 650 million euros for quantum technology research by 2022.

To date, 19 EU countries have signed agreements to develop joint quantum communications infrastructure, with the purpose of storing sensitive government communications, financial transactions, and sensitive data in the fields of health, national security, and defense for a long time.

Japan established an industry-university cooperation association at the end of July to promote the practical application of quantum computers. Japan's main goal is to use computers to develop materials and apply them to the financial sector.

Japanese home appliance manufacturer Toshiba Corp announced on Oct 19 that it would launch a service that provides quantum encrypted communication through existing optical fiber lines, with the goal of promoting the service so that it accounts for 25 percent of the global market by 2035.

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