(Sydney.edu) The University of Sydney offers a tour of the Nanoscience Hub and interview with a tour leader who is a world-leading researcher in quantum computing, Professor David Reilly, to guide us. “Most modern technologies are largely based on electromagnetism and Newtonian mechanics,” says Reilly in a meeting room at the University’s Nano Hub. “Quantum computing taps into an enormous new area of nano physics that we haven’t harnessed yet.
”The quality of the work happening at the the University of Sydney’s Nanoscience Hub was powerfully endorsed in 2017, when the Microsoft Corporation proposed a research partnership with the University, one of only four such arrangements Microsoft has in the world. “This is not a research grant,” Reilly says. “Microsoft have been working in quantum computing since 2005 and they’re in it for the long haul. Now we’re working together, elbow to elbow in the labs, on something where every part is a work in progress.
It’s a partnership advancing a frontier.” Reilly’s role sees him straddling the corporate and the academic, where deep knowledge is important but always with the goal of creating something real. Remembering how even great work can vanish into academic papers, Reilly says, “The thought of not knowing whether this technology can come alive, I find to be scary. Connecting the discovery bit to the industry engineering machine means you actually see the whole system come together. That’s exciting.”
where might quantum computing be put to work? The first thing to know is that our classical computers will not disappear from homes or offices. Quantum computers work on a scale well beyond emails, video games and spreadsheets. They will be about hugely accelerating global research and production.
“If you look at the top 10, classicaltype super computers on the planet right now, you’ll find some are doing defence applications, like simulating weapons,” Reilly says. “But a big chunk of them, are renting time out to pharmaceutical companies to understand the basic chemistry of different types of drugs which is really complex stuff.”
These are the areas – industrial chemistry, pharmaceuticals, climate, city planning – where quantum computing could bring unimagined speed and accuracy, and the possibility of much more.