Reply to post: Quantum technology is in the eye of the beholder

UK.gov has £12m to help kick-start quantum techs that could be 'adopted at scale' – which is pretty niche, if we're honest

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Quantum technology is in the eye of the beholder

Quantum technology, not unlike practical fusion power generation ..., is one of those things that promises much, but has singularly failed to deliver.

The outcome of that particular judgement is rather dependent on how one defines "quantum technology". For example, atomic clocks are unquestionably a very useful technology; they are based on quantum transitions and draw on many decades of research in spectroscopy and quantum mechanics. High-temperature superconductors (and all other superconductors, for that matter) are very much based on quantum mechanics; making new and better ones does require a very good understanding of their quantum properties (among many other things!). One might argue that these superconductors are a rather handy technology. Most lasers (with a possible exception of free-electron lasers, which are a bit special) are quite certainly quantum devices; designing lasing medium with the desired parameters _is_ a non-trivial quantum problem (and a rather hard materials engineering problem). I do find lasers a rather useful technology. We can keep going - quantum Hall sensors? quantum key distribution? specroscopic remote-sensing techniques? magnetic-resonance imaging? OLEDs? All rather useful, all rely on quantum effects and our understanding of those. In my book, these are all "quantum technologies".

Of course, the ISCF funding call uses a narrower definition of "quantum technologies": ... quantum technologies including:

- connectivity: techniques for securing data in storage and in flight

- situational awareness: this includes autonomous systems, sensors and detectors for the built environment, transport and infrastructure, and imaging and sensing to “see things currently invisible”

- computing: transformational computers for solving currently intractable problems

[https://www.gov.uk/government/news/commercialising-quantum-technologies-opportunity-to-invest]

Even with this narrow definition, we already have quite a few quantum technologies in widespread use - e.g. radioactive-decay based random number generators (quite useful for securing data); IR- and UV-based remote sensing, various spectroscopic techniques for medical imaging; and so on.

I know it is the ground-state of El Reg's being to be cynical, and I fully approve of this state of affairs, but in this case it seems a little over-egged.

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