Quantum Sensing: Delivering the Quantum Advantage
(Evan Salim, Director of Quantum Technologies, ColdQuanta Inc.) When the futuristic discussion of quantum is raised, quantum computers are often the first thing that comes to mind. Afterall, we’ve seen much written about this in the press or played up in movies. While these advanced computers are one of the first tangible quantum products, the application of quantum technologies extends far beyond this. Quantum technologies have the potential to significantly disrupt information processing, communications, standards and sensing across numerous industries including aerospace, agriculture, finance, energy, national defense, telecommunications, shipping and logistics, and more.
Sensing, in particular, is one key area of quantum experiencing rapid advancement. Quantum sensors are devices that leverage the quantum phenomena to measure something useful in the physical world – location, distance, time, etc. Quantum sensing systems will one day become the norm as they are more sensitive, accurate, and stable than their classical counterparts that perform these critical activities.
One of the first applications of quantum sensing is the creation of Quantum Positioning Systems (QPS). These systems are set to displace the multi-billion dollar GPS market. Reducing the reliance on GPS technologies is critical for scenarios where signals from these systems are not available, such as underwater or in space, or when they suffer disruptions due to technical issues, cyberattacks, and atmospheric effects.
QPS provides reliable signals that are stable over long periods, combatting GPS disruptions or denials. It enables autonomous mission durations of days or weeks versus the hours offered by current technologies, and allows us to determine how fast an object has traveled, for how long and in what direction. For instance, a submarine could spend weeks underwater versus needing to surface in order to orient itself.
Another important application is Quantum RF (Radio Frequency) Sensing, which is poised to impact dozens of industries. Radio Frequency spectrum is wide and dense and its current infrastructure requires multiple antennas to support this wide array of frequencies. Quantum RF Sensing can receive a wide array of frequencies and very weak signals with greater than 10 times sensitivity compared to existing state-of-the-art technologies. It can identify precisely where signals originate and enable highly secure, stealth communications. Quantum RF sensing devices can also be provided at a fraction of the size of today’s devices, consuming less space and power.
These two types of sensing – QPS and Quantum RF Sensing – can be used together to deliver breakthrough advancements. For example, fully autonomous vehicles need quantum sensing to become a reality. Positioning systems in these vehicles require a reliable “ground truth” source as a trusted point of reference. Quantum RF sensors are a viable solution, and they can work in combination with QPS to ensure reliability and accuracy of less than 10 centimeters.
Quantum sensing is opening the door to new possibilities that will affect nearly every aspect of human life. These systems are undergoing rapid development today, so that we can benefit from the quantum advantage they provide in the not so distant future. While sensors are already a multi-billion dollar market, future performance requirements will demand quantum sensors for their accuracy and reliability.
ColdQuanta is the vertical sponsor (“Quantum Sensors”) at IQT NY 2021 online event May 17-20, 2021. Evan Salim will deliver a keynote 9am ET May 18th, 2021.