Inside Quantum Technology

Quantum News Briefs August 7: How quantum sensors are revolutionizing robotics; The success of “Quantum Boulevard in Hefei, China; Is quantum computing the future of DNA analysis? + MORE

Quantum News Briefs looks at news in the quantum industry.

Quantum News Briefs is a news series that looks at news in the quantum computing industry.

Quantum News Briefs August 7:

How quantum sensors are revolutionizing robotics

Quantum sensors will supercharge the way robots work and how we apply them to important 21st-century challenges according to  Jeff Wong of EY and Kristin Gilkes also with EY in their August 5 article in Venture Beat. Quantum News Briefs summarizes.
Quantum sensors are  already the basis of some of the most important systems and technologies in our world — global positioning systems (GPS) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners are prime examples.
Quantum sensors and quantum AI are just the beginning: Robots are now getting the quantum sensor treatment too.
Because they work at such a small scale, quantum sensors can measure light or other observable phenomena extremely accurately. It also means they can provide a highly precise and stable measurement, as they measure properties like the structure of atoms or spins of atomic particles, which never change.
Combining quantum sensing with other technologies is a strategy with lots of potential. Applications of this powerful combination are also emerging. For example, we are starting to see quantum sensors combined with mobile robots. Information about the environment detected by the sensors, such as small changes in temperature or magnetic fields, can enable the robot to make more precise movements and decisions, as well as gather valuable data for other purposes.
We are already seeing pioneering research in this area, such as a Qatari project studying optimal growing strategies for very light-sensitive greenhouse plants like tomatoes, a project feeding into the country’s food security focus on locally grown rather than imported produce.
Experts believe quantum computing could overcome this challenge by running algorithms much faster, dramatically reducing the processing power required. It’s clear to us that quantum robotics is a dynamic field that innovators, scientists and governments are keen to expand. We are confident that quantum sensors and quantum AI are just the beginning. We will be watching closely as quantum robots take ever-bigger steps toward realizing their potential.  Click here to read the Venture Beat article in-entirety.

The success of “Quantum Boulevard in Hefei, China

“Quantum Boulevard” in Hefei, China reveals one of the world’s tightest concentrations of bleeding-edge technology firms. Dozens of companies feed a quantum-computing supply chain that did not exist a few years ago. Their wares include some of the most advanced commercialised technology on the planet. The district is hardly a decade old. Quantum News Briefs summarizes Yahoo Finance’s August reprint of a lengthy, substantive Economist article.
Hefei’s technological progress chimes with Mr Xi’s call for an “Industrial Revolution 4.0”, in which China shakes off “low-quality” growth—cheap manufacturing and debt-financed homebuilding—by capturing entirely new industries and their supply chains. This vision reserves special attention for the inland backwaters that have missed out on much of the internet boom in coastal provinces. If Mr Xi has his way, the next decade of development will look more like Hefei than today’s tech hubs of Shenzhen and Hangzhou.
During the Cultural Revolution, the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) was forced to leave Beijin and settled in Hefei in 1970. In the flight from political violence, it lost more than half its scholars and equipment. But utsc has now re-emerged as a global centre for science.
USTC has designed China’s most advanced quantum computer.
A second ingredient of the Hefei model is the flow of talent. The city government frequently recruits from the engineering and science departments of local universities. A third factor is the “chain boss” system. The government has created groups of firms in 12 industries, including semiconductors, EVs, quantum sciences and biotechnology. Each group has a “chain boss”: a government official who oversees big-picture planning for the industry. The fourth ingredient in the model is state capital. Hefei’s administration ploughs money into the most promising companies it can identify. It has been described as a “government of investment bankers”.  Hefei’s state investors have also been unusually adventurous. Most cities lack the expertise to run private-equity funds. And they do not have incentives to make bets with distant, uncertain pay-offs.
Hefei’s success suggests that education, industry and geography are not enough. Political incentives must also align. Mr Xi frequently demands loyalty and austerity from his cadres. The Hefei model, on the other hand, requires gumption and daring. State capitalists must be prepared to take the kind of risky bets that do not always pay off. The model cannot succeed in other cities unless their local cadres are free to fail. Click here to read original article in-entirety.

Is quantum computing the future of DNA analysis?

DNA sequencing technology, i.e., determining the order of nucleotide bases in a DNA molecule, is central to personalized medicine and disease diagnostics, yet even the fastest technologies require hours, or days, to read a complete sequence. Now, a multi-institutional research team led by The Institute of Scientific and Industrial Research (SANKEN) at Osaka University, has developed a technique using quantum technology that could lead to a new paradigm for genomic analysis. Quantum News Briefs summarizes the August 3 article from Osaka University.
In a study recently published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B, the researchers aimed to use a quantum computer to distinguish adenosine from the other three nucleotide molecules. Using quantum encoding to identify single nucleotide molecules is a necessary first step toward the ultimate goal of DNA sequencing, and it’s this problem that the researchers sought to address.
“Using a quantum circuit, we show how to detect a nucleotide from only the measurement data of a single molecule,” explains Masateru Taniguchi, lead author of the study. “This is the first time a quantum computer has been connected to measurement data for a single molecule, and demonstrates the feasibility of using quantum computers in genome analysis.”
Tomofumi Tada, senior author of the study. “In the present setup, discrimination of adenosine monophosphate from the other three nucleotides is not necessarily straightforward, but DNA sequencing could be possible by designing quantum gates for these other nucleotides as well.”
This work has broad and exciting potential applications: advances in drug discovery, cancer diagnosis, and infectious disease research are a few examples of what is expected with the advent of ultra-fast genome analysis. Click here to read original article in-entirety.

USA’s quantum talent shortage a national security vulnerability

Quantum technologies’ promising but unknown potential has led the Biden administration to rank U.S. leadership in this area among its highest priorities, but the United States currently lacks access to the talent required to maintain competitiveness. The United States’ QIST talent shortage is a national security risk—and the White House has no solid plan to fill critical vacancies. Quantum News Briefs summarizes a recent article in Foreign Policy by , a researcher with the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.
Quantum systems may power the next generation of defense technologies. The first country to scale and commercialize quantum technologies could gain the ability to improve their position, navigation, and timing capabilities; bolster intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tactics; enhance counter-stealth capabilities; or crack adversaries’ encryption methods. They will be able to threaten previously unreachable parts of adversaries’ corporate, military, and government infrastructure at unprecedented speed.
QIST has become a central battleground of U.S.-China competition. Neither country maintains a decisive advantage across all three QIST subfields. The United States leads in the development of quantum computing and quantum sensing—but Beijing is catching up. China is ahead of the United States in the development of quantum communications technologies and holds the highest number of total quantum technology patents, indicating that it could soon erode the United States’ advantages.
Precise definitions of “quantum talent” and “quantum workforce” are still unfolding. The quantum industry is relatively nascent and engineers must overcome several remaining technical hurdles to build quantum systems capable of delivering real-world effects. As a result, the jobs, skills, and degrees that are relevant to a quantum workforce are ambiguous. But the need to develop a talent pool equipped to understand and apply QIST is urgent to compete with adversaries and remain at the cutting edge of research and discovery. Unfortunately, the United States faces significant roadblocks in achieving this.
It is increasingly clear that a competitive quantum workforce must hold general science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills as well as quantum-specific expertise. The United States’ general STEM skills gap is welldocumented. The United States is projected to face a shortfall of nearly 2 million STEM workers by 2025, due in part to insufficient processes to develop future STEM talent.
The fastest path to augmenting the U.S. quantum workforce likely involves international collaboration, concerted efforts to retain foreign-born workers, and initiatives to reskill workers in other adjacent technology industries. This is because increased investment in QIST has created a landscape in which readily available expertise is globally dispersed.
Developing new domestic QIST experts is a slow process. The median time to complete U.S. higher-education QIST degrees ranges from four to 10 years, and few QIST-specific programs exist. Existing foreign talent is thus required to fill QIST knowledge gaps in the immediate term and build additional domestic avenues to QIST expertise in the longer term. Click here to read the Foreign Policy article in-entirety.

Sandra K. Helsel, Ph.D. has been researching and reporting on frontier technologies since 1990.  She has her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.


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