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Quantum Technology is The New Limit of Indian Scientists

The scheme, DST says, "promises to revolutionise the future computation and communication systems which will ultimately have huge impact on the nation and our society as a whole".

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Thanks to government funding, Indian physicists are preparing for a deep dive into the quantum world that holds the secrets for developing exciting technologies for computing, communication, cryptography and many more.
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Thanks to government funding, Indian physicists are preparing for a deep dive into the quantum world that holds the secrets for developing exciting technologies for computing, communication, cryptography and many more.

Schemes for making India a major player in quantum technologies were deliberated during a five-day international conference on “Quantum Frontiers and Fundamentals” at the Raman Research Institute (RRI) here.

Sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, the philanthropic organisation in the US, it was attended by eminent physicists from India and abroad, including several research students from India with a total number of around 100 participants, reflecting the significant growth in the research community in this area in our country.

“This is an interesting conference, blending quantum fundamentals aspects with applications, and is unique in its mandate as we have tried to provide equal emphasis to both theoretical research and experimental quantum technologies,” Urbasi Sinha, of RRI and organiser of the conference, told this correspondent. Dipankar Home of the Bose Institute, Kolkata, and Alexandre Matzkin of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris were the co-organisers.

Quantum physics is a basic theory in physics that deals with the behaviour of matter and light on the atomic and subatomic scale. Quantum technology exploits the weird properties of quantum mechanics — especially quantum entanglement, quantum superposition and quantum tunnelling — into practical applications for computing, cryptography and “secure” communication. Quantum computers that process “quantum data” (instead of binary data) are predicted to be faster than today’s largest classical computer.

Research in these areas at Indian laboratories has received a boost with promised funding support from the government’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), as well as small individual projects from the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Prime Minister’s Office.

The DST’s Mission-Mode scheme, called “Quantum Science and Technology (QuST)”, will fund research “for the development and demonstration” of quantum computers, quantum communication and cryptography, besides “demonstration of quantum teleportation”.

The scheme, DST says, “promises to revolutionise the future computation and communication systems which will ultimately have huge impact on the nation and our society as a whole”.

The DST initiative has received overwhelming response and “has already received 128 proposals from researchers from different parts of the country,” Rajeev Sharma, a spokesperson for the scheme at DST, told this correspondent. “Funding is no problem,” he said.

ISRO, in collaboration with RRI, has initiated a mega project called “Quantum Experiments Using Satellite Technology (QUEST)”. Sinha, along with members of her “Quantum Information and Computing Lab” and theory colleagues at RRI, will play a key role in developing these technologies in the coming years, with support from ISRO.

Schemes for making India a major player in quantum technologies were deliberated during a five-day international conference on "Quantum Frontiers and Fundamentals" at the Raman Research Institute (RRI) here.
Quatum Tech to get a boost in India, Pixabay

“Once RRI is ready with an experimental payload, we will launch it on board one of our satellite missions,” M. Sankaran, deputy director of ISRO Satellite Centre in Bengaluru and one of the conference participants, told this correspondent.

According to Sinha, one of her first experiments “will be a collaborative effort with the ‘Quantum Photonics Lab’ at Ontario’s University of Waterloo” that will aim to establish “a secure Quantum Key Distribution link” between India and Canada.

“It is good that both DST and ISRO have decided to fund research in this important area,” said Arun Kumar Pati, a leading researcher in quantum physics at the Harish Chandra Research Institute in Allahabad and a conference participant. “We are 10 years behind and have to catch up.”

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Using its world’s first quantum satellite called “Micius”, China had already demonstrated transmission of images from the country to Austria and researchers at the National University of Singapore had built a nano-satellite with a quantum communication payload. Scientists of the University of Waterloo have also demonstrated the first quantum key distribution transmissions from a ground transmitter to a quantum payload on a moving aircraft.

The conference suggested the formation in India of a society for quantum information scientists. It also called for greater thrust to experimental research and an increase in the pool of researchers in the area of quantum technologies. (IANS)

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Microsoft is Leading Quantum Computer Race to Unlock Mysteries Around Us

The company is also building a community of quantum developers

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Microsoft acquires conversational AI and bot development firm. Pixabay

For Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, quantum computing is among three technologies — the other two being Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Mixed Reality — that will soon disrupt the status quo, impacting our lives, communities and economies.

Believed to be a lot faster and more capable than the existing computing systems, quantum computing is set to herald the next wave of the digital revolution.

Researchers at Microsoft are busy writing the software to build a scalable computer that will help humanity unlock solutions to problems in areas such as clean energy, global warming, materials design and much more — including solving the mysteries of our universe.

If all goes well, Microsoft is confident about having one such scalable super machine within the next five years.

Based on quantum bits, the computer will not use classical bits but qubits which are not limited to binary and can have properties of 0 and 1 simultaneously, thus trying every possible number and sequence simultaneously to unlock vast amounts of data.

The current bits in computers store information as either 1 or 0, thus limiting the potential to make sense when faced with gigantic volumes of data.

Microsoft
A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge. VOA

“We are looking at a five-year time-frame to build a quantum computer and what we need are roughly 100-200 good qubits with a low-error rate,” Krysta Svore, Principal Research Manager, Microsoft Quantum Computing, told IANS here.

Microsoft has also partnered with various stakeholders, including universities and governments, to realise the dream.

“We need a global effort for quantum research. There are quantum computers but they are small-scale ones and we are trying to push into finding better qubits,” added Svore, who leads the Microsoft Quantum-Redmond (QuArC) group.

Not just Microsoft but several other tech giants like IBM, Google and Intel have joined the race to build a scalable quantum computer.

Google has unveiled “Bristlecone” — a quantum computing chip with 72 qubits. IBM announced a 50-qubit processor last year.

A quantum computer can solve complex problems that would otherwise take billions of years for today’s computers to solve. This has massive implications for research in health care, energy, environmental systems, smart materials and more.

Microsoft, however, has an added advantage: Its quantum system can integrate seamlessly with its highly-secure Azure Cloud.

Over a period of time, Microsoft has built a team comprising some of the best minds in quantum physics, mathematics, computer science and engineering.

To achieve its goal of creating a scalable quantum computer, the company first started by creating the raw materials necessary to make “topological” quantum devices.

Microsoft is the only major tech company attempting to build “topological” qubits which aim to significantly reduce any interference at a sub-atomic level that might affect the machine. With this approach, the computational qubits will be “corrected” by other qubits.

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A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. Microsoft says it’s requiring its U.S. suppliers to offer their employees at least 12 weeks paid leave to care for a new child. The company announced the new parental leave policy Thursday. VOA

The team then grew specialised nanowires that can be used to make qubits. The researchers created atomically thin conducting layers with exotic topological properties to realise a fully scalable quantum computer.

Microsoft today runs several labs around the world that specialise in the fabrication of quantum devices. According to the company, the infrastructure allows for the efficient mounting, wiring and cooling of these devices which, in turn, supports rapid prototyping, characterisation and exploration.

These devices operate at temperatures almost 200 times colder than the farthest reaches of outer space.

To help quantum developers build applications and algorithms, the company has also released the Quantum Development Kit — a set of enterprise-grade tools to write, debug and optimise quantum code.

The company is also building a community of quantum developers.

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“Nature computes using quantum, such as protein folding and several other complex mechanisms, and it does it quickly. If nature can do this, why can’t we?,” said Svore.

In his book “Hit Refresh”, Nadella has shed light on the ongoing activities and future plans to build new computational methods for programming the quantum computer, because a problem that would take today’s machines billions of years to solve could be completed by a quantum computer in minutes, hours or days. (IANS)