Author: Project Q

Q Research

Foundations are joining the forefront to support research in quantum physics


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The Simons Foundation recently announced the formation of the Center for Computational Quantum Physics (CCQ), with the appointment of Antoine Georges as its director.

The announcement comes as a sign of growing interest by foundations in the research and development of quantum systems, joining government bodies and companies alike (i.e. Google, IBM, Microsoft).

According to the Simons Foundation website, CCQ is expected to comprise up to 60 scientific and support personnel, and will host meetings, workshops and conferences with the aim to serve as a focal point for computational materials science internationally.  The Center is also aiming to “develop the concepts, algorithms and computational tools needed to handle many-body quantum systems […] and make them available to the scientific community.”

CCQ’s new director, Antoine Georges is Chair in Condensed Matter Physics at the Collège de France and is Professor of Physics at Ecole Polytechnique and at the University of Geneva. The new Center will begin operations in September 2017 alongside the Centers for Computational Astrophysics and Computational Biology within the Simons Foundations’ Flatiron Institute in Manhattan.

Image: Simons Foundation

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Are open-source softwares a step forward in our quest for quantum computers?


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In the race to develop and build quantum computers, D-Wave are making a new software tool to help developers program D-Wave machines without any necessary experience in quantum physics or advanced mathematics, according to this piece on Wired Magazine by Klint Finley.

The software tool, Qbsolv, will be made open-source, meaning anyone will be able to freely share and modify the software. It is an interesting move by D-Wave, who hope the software will get other researchers and practitioners “involved in charting the future directions of quantum computing developments”. D-Wave International president Bo Ewald says, “we need more smart people thinking about applications, and another set thinking about software tools.”

The new software will join a growing pool of readily available software for quantum computer programmers, such as Qmasm, which assists developers by removing the worry about addressing underlying hardware in D-Wave machines. Finley writes on Ewald’s goal is to “kickstart a quantum computing software tools ecosystem and foster a community of developers working on quantum computer problems.”

Unfortunately, softwares such as Qbsolv actually require access to D-Wave machines, of which there are a few. Rather, programs and softwares such as Qbsolv and Qmasm are step towards improving the way we visualise problems within quantum computing. Finley, however, is less emphatic and writes “they’ll need more than just open source software […] They’ll need an open source community.”

Image: Getty Images

Q Research

Is 2017 the year of the quantum computer?


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With computing giants such as Google and Microsoft, along with a host of labs and start-ups all pledging to build the first quantum computer, the quantum race is set to heat up this new year.

This piece in the Nature journal outlines the newest endeavours by Google and more recently by Microsoft, as well as by academic labs and quantum computing start-ups alike.

Google is hoping to perform quantum computation beyond the most powerful ‘classical’ supercomputers this year, by harnessing superconductivity in a project they began in 2014. Microsoft on the other hand plan to work on an unproven concept, topological quantum computing, and hope to perform a first demonstration on the technology.

Christopher Monroe, physicist at the University of Maryland in College Park who co-founded the start-up IonQ, noticed “people are really building things […] It’s no longer just research.”

 

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Project Q interviews leading figure in Microsoft’s new quantum computing initiative


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On the cusp of the New York Times’ announcement that Microsoft was going all in on quantum computing, the Project Q team was in Copenhagen to interview Villum Kann Rasmussen Professor Charles Marcus at the Niels Bohr Institute, where the quantum revolution first began.

Professor Marcus along with Leo Kouwenhoven from the Delft University of Technology and David Reilly from the University of Sydney, all leading figures in the field of quantum computing, have been brought in by Microsoft in a combined effort to create the first scalable quantum computer using topological qubits.

Watch a clip from the interview below.

Image: From left, Leo Kouwenhoven and Charles Marcus attend the 2014 Microsoft’s Station Q conference in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Brian Smale)

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The Quantum Brain


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Quanta Magazine recently published this article describing a new, groundbreaking theory which seeks to explain how fragile quantum states may be able to exist for hours (even days) within the human brain.

Jennifer Ouellette writes about Matthew Fisher, a physicist from the University of California, Santa Barbara, who published this controversial paper in 2015 proposing that the nuclear spins of phosphorus atoms could serve as rudimentary ‘qubits’ in the brain, suggesting that the brain could function like a quantum computer.

The hypothesis is controversial and puzzling, given the difficulty of building an operating quantum computer, which includes entangling qubits in a fragile state. The bigger challenge is providing the same controlled environment in a ‘warm, wet brain’, where maintaining coherence for long periods of time is near impossible.

However, there is growing evidence to suggest that biological systems can in fact possess quantum mechanical functions. Fisher’s research broadly follows this emerging field of quantum biology, which includes new research that shows migratory birds have a quantum compass enabling them to navigate pathways using the Earth’s magnetic fields.

What do you think? Can quantum mechanical functions occur in the brain?

 

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Singaporean telco Singtel join forces with the National University of Singapore in the name of cybersecurity


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Yesterday, the National University of Singapore announced their partnership with Singaporean telco Singtel, launching the NUS-Singtel Cyber Security Research and Development Laboratory to address the growing security concerns of our hyperconnected digital world.

The R&D lab aims to conduct research and development capabilities and innovative solutions that defend Singapore’s public entities, businesses and individuals from cyber threats. The research focus will revolve around four themes: network, data and cloud security; predictive security analytics; Internet-of-Things and industrial control systems; and most interestingly, future-ready cybersecurity systems based on quantum technology.

The Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore has noted that this new partnership will allow their researchers to bring quantum key distribution to one of Singapore’s biggest fibre networks.

This exciting new partnership is evidence of the increasing support and funding in research and development to introduce quantum technology in building security solutions in our ever expanding digital age, especially in South East Asia.

Image: CQT’s Alexander Ling and Singtel’s Amelia Tan presented a demo of quantum key distribution to Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister Mr Teo Chee Hean at the launch of the NUS-Singtel Cyber Security Research and Development Laboratory (Centre for Quantum Technologies)

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China launches first quantum-communications satellite


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China has successfully launched the world’s first quantum-communications satellite, which has arguably propelled the country ahead of its global rivals in the quantum arms race.

The satellite is set to establish hack-proof communications impervious to cyber security threats. Today’s launch was the beginning of China’s ambitious national program to create a network of quantum-secure communication, by transmitting undecipherable keys between ground and space.

The breakthrough project was led by Professor Pan Jian-Wei from the University of Science and Technology in China, in collaboration with the University of Vienna, where he was a former PhD graduate supervised by Professor Anton Zeilinger.

Once in orbit, the satellite will transmit entangled photons to ground bases in Beijing and Vienna to create a secret key used to access information within the transmission.

If the satellite’s launch and orbit is successful, China plans to launch more satellites to complete the first global network of quantum-communication.

Image: Zuma Press

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Europe announces plan to launch billion dollar project in quantum technologies


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The European Commission has announced plans to launch a €1 billion project to kick-start Europe’s research in quantum technologies, a much needed move to ensure Europe’s leading role in a technological revolution that is now under way.

The initiative will launch in 2018 and aims to develop a range of different quantum technologies, from secure communication networks to ultra-precise gravity sensors and clocks.

Along with a press release of the announcement, the Commission also released a “Quantum Manifesto” to formulate a common strategy for Europe’s hand in the quantum revolution. The manifesto can be downloaded via the website. (more…)

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The quest for quantum on Future Tense


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Project Q’s Director, Professor James Der Derian was recently featured on ABC Radio’s program Future Tense (click to listen) to discuss the implications of quantum computing on peace and security.

The program which focused on topics surrounding the development of a quantum computer included interviews with Professor Michelle Simmons, Director of the Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology at the University of New South Wales; Dr. Simon Devitt, creator of meQuanics; and David Whiteing, CIO of Commonwealth Bank, who is working with Professor Simmons on a quantum computer for commercial use.

Photo: Steve Jurvetson / Flickr CC by 2.0

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Sydney University quantum lab receives multimillion dollar grant from US intelligence


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The Quantum Control Lab, led by Q3 Speaker, Associate Professor Michael Biercuk at the University of Sydney’s new Nanoscience Hub has been awarded a multimillion dollar grant for research in quantum computing by the US office of the Director of National Intelligence, reported by the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday.

The Nanoscience Hub is the only facility in Australia chosen for the US funding and the grant forms part of a program run by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).

According to the report, IARPA’s program aims to deliver a “logical quantum bit based on trapped ions”, whereby quantum bits (qubits) are the building blocks for quantum computing, promising to revolutionise the way computers work.

Associate Professor Biercuk commented on the intelligence funding from IARPA as “not about building weapons but for supporting applied science research.” He also described the diversity of funding programs in the US, many from the military or intelligence organisations unlike Australia. (more…)