Prototype devices designed using new understandings of quantum mechanics could be ready as early as 2020.
The UK government has selected four companies to lead quantum projects to design new sensors and encryption technology. The four projects will share £20 million in funding overseen by the UK Research and Innovation agency.
In classical computer science a bit has two states, 1 or 0, it is always one or the other, never both. However, subatomic particles can exist in more than one state, a phenomenon often referred to as quantum entanglement. Quantum computing takes advantage of this. Instead of dealing with electrons which are just 1 and 0, we now moving to the quantum level of sub-atomic particles, which through entanglement can represent more data.
Quantum technologies can be also used to craft new sensors to help us detect magnetic, light and gravity fields.
Engineering and environment consultants RSK is leading a project backed by the funding to design quantum sensors to help detect objects underground.
RSK principal geophysicist Matt Stringfellow commented in a blog post that the: “The project has also showed that the technology is likely to show variation in drainage and earthwork condition as a result of changes in siltation of drainage and from varying amounts of saturation in earthworks. This is an important result in its own right, as it shows the technology could be used for asset condition monitoring.”
Manufacture Teledyne e2V are developing a miniature atomic clock which will operate as a back up to standard timing services, which are set by Global Navigation Satellite Systems. If that time system is knocked offline it would cause major disruptions to transportation and energy supplies.
Business Secretary Greg Clark commented in a released statement that: “There is a huge future for cutting-edge science in the UK, which is why we are investing in ambitious technologies like quantum in our modern Industrial Strategy. The projects announced today will benefit ordinary people around the country, from easing traffic congestion to offering more data security for online transactions.”