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What is quantum tech - and could it take off in the UK?

Charlotte Jee | | July 1, 2016
Quantum effects like superposition and entanglement could vastly improve technologies like cryptography, imaging and computing. Here's how.

"That makes for a very secure comms network," he explains.

How quantum tech could be used

"By integrating these two quantum effects [superposition and entanglement] into each bit of information, we can make a computer much more powerful than a normal computer.

"We can make other tech using quantum effects such as really specialist laser and vacuum equipment," Murray says.

Other applications could include quantum sensing devices (measuring gravity, for example), brain imagining, microscopes and very accurate magnetic sensors or clocks.

Quantum communication devices could be a way to transmit medical records, defence data or secure government records without worrying they would fall into the wrong hands.

And of course, the "holy grail" of quantum tech is quantum computing.

"Quantum computers have the potential to solve problems far better than any current computer can. They will let you do tasks very effectively that existing computers are not very good at: those that require a lot of processing," Murray says.

Currently there are one-qubit quantum devices in the UK. The main issue facing development of the technology is scaling. However Murray believes this can be overcome. He says "we may have 30-qubit devices in 30 years".

"It's very easy to think they [quantum computers] are very far away but they are closer than you expect," he adds, pointing to big investments from IBM, Google and Microsoft.

Could the UK be a market leader in quantum tech?

Murray firmly believes so.

He claims we are just three years away from seeing some quantum tech products go to market: specifically timing and gravity devices.

Murray admits it will be quite some time before you see any of this tech in your mobile phone.

"Very few companies are willing to invest in something to reach market in 20 years' time, so it's about how early wins might transform into revolutionary stuff further away in future," he says.

However when quantum tech starts to become more widespread and mainstream, Murray believes the UK will be at the vanguard.

"We [in the UK] do have a head start. In fact a lot of the work we do is with other countries looking to the UK to ask what we're doing, what's working and what's not. We really are setting the way forward," he says.

Source: TechWorld

 

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