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Quantum Computing

Quantum Computing

What is Quantum Computing?

  • Quantum computing is computing using quantum-mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement.
  • A quantum computer is a device that performs quantum computing. They are different from binary digital electronic computers based on transistors.
  • Whereas common digital computing requires that the data be encoded into binary digits (bits), each of which is always in one of two definite states (0 or 1), quantum computation uses quantum bits, which can be in superpositions of states.

Working of Quantum Computing

Quantum computers operate according to two key principles of quantum physics: superposition and entanglement.

  • Superposition means that each qubit can represent both a 1 and a 0 at the same time. Entanglement means that qubits in a superposition can be correlated with each other; that is, the state of one (whether it is a 1 or a 0) can depend on the state of another.
  • Using these two principles, qubits can act as more sophisticated switches, enabling quantum computers to function in ways that allow them to solve difficult problems that are intractable using today’s computers.

Difference Between Classical And Quantum Computers?

  • Classical computers process information in a binary format, called bits, which can represent either a 0 or 1.
  • While the bits in a classical computer all operate independently from one another, in a quantum computer, the status of one qubit effects the status of all the other qubits in the system, so they can all work together to achieve a solution.

Applications Of Quantum Computing

Besides computing, exploring the quantum world promises other dramatic applications. For example:

  • Research: It can help in solving some of the fundamental questions in physics related to gravity, black hole etc.
    • Similarly, the quantum initiative could give a big boost to the Genome India project, a collaborative effort of 20 institutions to enable new efficiencies in life sciences, agriculture and medicine.
  • Secure Communication: China recently demonstrated secure quantum communication links between terrestrial stations and satellites.
    • This area is significant to satellites, military and cyber security among others as it promises unimaginably fast computing and safe, unhackable satellite communication to its users.
  • Pharmaceutical: India’s interest in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry is huge.
    • Quantum computing could reduce the time frame of the discovery of new molecules and related processes to a few days from the present 10-year slog that scientists put in.
    • For instance, tracking protein behaviour or even modelling new proteins with the help of quantum computers could be made easier and faster.
    • Tackling chronic diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart ailments is a big possibility of the technology.
  • Disaster Management: Tsunamis, drought, earthquakes and floods may become more predictable with quantum applications.
    • The collection of data regarding climate change can be streamlined in a better way through quantum technology. This in turn will have a profound impact on agriculture, food technology chains and the limiting of farmland wastage.
  • Augmenting Industrial revolution 4.0: Quantum computing is an integral part of Industrial revolution 4.0.
    • Success in it will help in Strategic initiatives aimed at leveraging other Industrial revolution 4.0 technologies like the Internet-of-Things, machine learning, robotics, and artificial intelligence across sectors will further help in laying the foundation of the Knowledge economy.
  • Other applications include:
    • Quantum computers can be used in the Mathematical field for better optimizations.
    • Quantum computers can be used in stock markets for detecting problems.
    • Scan the universe for habitable planets. discover tumors in time and develop better targeting drugs.
    • Quantum computers can be used for the Google search engine to show the most relevant searches.

Challenges With Quantum Computing

  • Technological availability: The technology required to implement a quantum computer is not yet available. The reason is that electron (Essential element of quantum computing) gets damaged as soon as it is affected by the environment which is a major problem yet to be solved.
  • Price: The main disadvantage of the quantum computer is its price. Most of the small businesses may not be able to afford such an expensive machine.
  • Cooling: One way to stabilize certain types of qubits is to keep them very cold roughly –273 degrees Celsius which is very difficult to achieve.
  • Vulnerability: According to theoretical research, with quantum computing, every computer on this planet will become vulnerable. Even nuclear codes can be hacked with quantum computing. What will happen if it gets in the wrong hands?
  • Experience: Many companies claim they have built quantum computers including IBM and D-wave etc. Even if they have built a quantum computer, we don’t have enough experience with Quantum computers. For example, D-wave solved sudoku and many other puzzles using a quantum computer, even a classical computer can do that.
  • We need tons of new Quantum algorithms to reach its full potential. Because without these algorithms a Quantum computer will work only as a classical computer. In short, there will be no advantage to a quantum computer without quantum algorithms.
  • Unstable: Noise, temperature change, an electrical fluctuation or vibration—all of these things can disturb a qubit’s operation and cause it to lose its data.

Present Status Of Quantum Computing

  • The quantum computing market is expected to be worth $495.3 million by 2023. Similar to artificial intelligence, quantum computing also created a wave of race amongst top tech giants and startups to develop the first commercially viable quantum computer.
  • There has been significant growth in research and development in the field of quantum information science.
  • But commercial production of quantum computers is still decades away due to the above-mentioned challenges.

Development At The International Level

  • The USA led the way in the early development of quantum technologies. China had laid the foundation for large-scale quantum networking and quantum communication through its “QUESS” – world’s first quantum satellite. Researchers at the National University of Singapore had built a nano-satellite with a quantum communication payload. The United Kingdom has earmarked $400M over 5 years to a new Quantum Hub Network.

What is Quantum Supremacy?

  • The phrase ‘quantum supremacy’ was coined in the year 2011 by John Preskill, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology.
  • Quantum supremacy refers to a problem-solving process by the quantum computer that cannot be solved by a classical computer in its normal lifetime.
  • The concept is related to the speed at which a quantum computer performs.
  • Google claims to have achieved quantum supremacy through their processor which was able to perform a calculation in three minutes and 20 seconds that would take today’s most advanced classical computer, known as Summit, approximately 10,000 years

Challenges For India

  • Lack of resources in quantum computing to enable undergraduate and graduate students to venture into this field. There are only a few institutes in India teaching quantum technology.
  • Lack of talent in the quantum computing industry.
  • India lags behind other countries in terms of R&D. There have been less than 100 international journal publications from India on quantum computing.
  • There are fears that quantum computers will decipher the encryption that currently secures blockchains and cryptocurrencies.

India’s Effort

  • Globally, research in this area is about two decades old, but in India, serious experimental work has been under way for only about five years.
  • In 2018, the government initiated serious discussions in quantum technologies and kick started research projects across 51 organisations under QUEST – Quantum Enabled Science and Technology. However, no significant progress is made in this field until NMQTA.