Towards a Quantum Information Technology Industry

Tim Spiller Quantum Information Processing Research, Advanced Studies, HP Labs Bristol

© 2004 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice

Towards a QIT Industry
Abstract: • The research fields of quantum information processing and communication are now well established, although still growing and developing. It was realized early on that there is significant potential for new technologies and applications, leading to the vision of a whole new quantum information technology industry. The vision is not yet reality, and there are still many open questions with regard to how it might become so. This talk raises some of these questions, and gives a perspective from HP on how we might proceed, from where we are today towards a quantum information technology industry in the future.

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Towards a QIT Industry
• •

Introduction Towards a QIT industry from where we are today: Bootstrapping? The short term (HP) view. Comments on the longer term.

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The end of Moore’s law; the birth of QIP
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As devices shrink… …quantum effects appear. Moore’s law will hit this quantum wall around 2020 (when devices get down to the single electron level). Understanding and control of quantum effects can enable: (i) Evolution of IT: Extending Moore’s Law by softening the wall. (ii) Revolution of IT!!: Compute and process data using quantum bits -according to the laws of quantum rather than classical physics.
QUANTUM INFORMATION PROCESSING (QIP)
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• • •

QIP: today and the future

TODAY: Quantum cryptography works over 100km fibre and free space; few qubit “quantum computers” exist; teleportation works for one photon qubit and with matter qubits in an ion trap; quantum entanglement has been stretched to useful distances; etc… KEY OPEN PROBLEMS: (i) Further investigation is needed on quantum computing hardware; (ii) Scaling up to many qubits is required; (iii) Better sources, detectors and repeaters are needed; (iv) More quantum applications are needed for a major new quantum IT industry to develop… FUTURE: More research is needed, but there is real potential for a new quantum information technology.
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Advantage!

We have a big advantage over the inventors of conventional IT. We know all the history of how conventional IT has appeared, developed and evolved. So we can learn a great deal, borrow ideas, avoid mistakes, etc..

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Disadvantage!

We have a big disadvantage over the inventors of conventional IT. We know all the history of how conventional IT has appeared, developed and evolved! It is very hard to ignore stuff once we know about it, and to think “out of the box”… It is very tempting to just look at what we do with conventional IT and to try and do it better with QIT, or at what we’d like to do with present IT but can’t and to try and do it with QIT…
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Moore’s Law

We know exponential increase of processor speed and exponential decrease of device size will not go on for ever. Maybe 2020? Silicon-based technology will be pushed as far as it can – it has trampled on rival technologies to date. Maybe new paradigms for conventional IT will eventually emerge to push Moore’s Law as far as it can go (selfassembled nanostructures, molecular electronics…). Eventually Moore’s Law will run into quantum mechanics and bits will become quantum…
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Evolution of conventional IT

We will always need conventional IT, because we are big and clumsy and classical! A significant industrial impact of ideas and research from quantum information could arise in the evolution of conventional IT when bits start becoming quantum! For example, we might want to engineer in suitable decoherence to keep bits classical!

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QIT

There is no reason to expect the “killer applications” – those that eventually dominate QIT revenue – to emerge early on. The first idea for the transistor was hearing aids! Then various military applications. Consumers came later… The laser sat around for a while as a research tool before real applications began to emerge. So there is no harm in trying to think big about QIT at the start, but we may be totally off the mark!
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QIT

Something (quantum hearing aids!) is needed to kickstart or bootstrap a QIT industry. This is important for two reasons: 1) It is necessary to get the IT industry engaged at the next level of investment from where they are now. (Add (at least) a factor of 10 for each level: research -> R&D and prototyping -> gearing up for manufacturing.) 2) It is necessary to get quantum widgets and simple QIT into the hands of other people, because…

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QIT

…there is no good reason for assuming that one of us – the basic research community – will find the “killer applications”. The inventors of the major applications of conventional IT today are not generally the people who researched and developed the basic building blocks, so… …we should at least be prepared for the fact that the inventors of major QIT applications may not have PhDs in quantum physics!

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QIT – Factoring and Searching

Factoring is an excellent driver and current incentive ($$$$) for research progress in scalable quantum processors, (e.g. current US funded programmes). It is not an industrial driver. The market is not exactly large – one customer! Searching (and all the related applications) look to have more widespread use and application.

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QIT – Bootstrapping an Industry

Quantum security applications (QKD, QRNG and other applications) have potential for this role. There may well be sufficient market for industry to invest further. “Communication backbone” products using QKD exist already. What about consumers?

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The Vision – “Consumer QKD”
Our personal data security is based on one time pads. Personal, low cost and small, topped up at your local “ATM machine” using short range QKD.

One time pads store consumable shared secrets. Used • to identify yourself • to protect personal electronic transactions • as money • to open doors

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“Consumer QKD”

Collaboration between HP Labs and the University of Bristol (Rarity) – EC project SECOQC. A new direction for quantum crypto – short distance, free space and cheap, to interface to the long distance QKD backbone. Applications: Quantum bank card/ATM, quantum door key, quantum car key, ID… For consumers there should be many Alices per Bob, so Alice has to be small, light and cheap. Working demos at University of Bristol and HP.
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QIT – Bootstrapping an Industry

Quantum security applications (QKD, QRNG and other applications) have potential for this role. There may well be sufficient market for industry to invest further. “Communication backbone” products using QKD exist already. What about consumers?

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QIT – Bootstrapping an Industry

Quantum security applications (QKD, QRNG and other applications) have potential for this role. There may well be sufficient market for industry to invest further. “Communication backbone” products using QKD exist already. What about consumers? NOTE: QKD requires no quantum processing (interacting qubits). So further technological breakthroughs are required from QKD for QIP…
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QIT – Bootstrapping an Industry

Quantum (-improved) sensing, detecting and metrology could also help start a QIT industry. Small scale QIP; specialist (non-consumer) market… Quantum simulators (50-100 qubit?) could be a real stimulus. There ought to be a specialist market for them as a research tool. However, they will also enable engineers, computer geeks, etc. to play with QIT. This could provide a real opportunity for new ideas.

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QIT – Bootstrapping an Industry
New few-qubit or small scale applications could also provide a vehicle for starting off a QIT industry… • …so it is vital that application research continues -QAP.
• •

NOTE: Avoid the High Energy Physics example – rapid expansion -> decoupling within the research field…

NOTE: The technologies needed for useful few-qubit applications may differ from those needed for manyqubit scalable quantum processors for factoring… • …so the goals of Security Agencies and Industry could begin to diverge on this point.

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In the short (~5+ year) term…
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Qubit resources will continue to be scarce. Until we get beyond what is classically simulatable (~30 qubits), useful few-qubit applications will necessarily involve quantum communication. Error correction will be impractical; maybe error filtration or simple purification will be the best we can do. Optical quantum communication and few-qubit processing (e.g. quantum repeaters)…
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In the longer (~10+ year) term

Larger scale QIT will likely require solid state fabrication of some sort. The qubits could be fundamental or fabricated… There will likely be more than one winning technology (e.g. storage, communication and processing in conventional IT), so… …interconversion between different forms of qubit and between static and travelling (optical) qubits will be needed.
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Towards a QIT Industry

To get to a QIT Industry in the future we need: New ideas for QIP applications. Further R&D on QIT realizations. Further collaboration between industrial and academic R&D. Funding agencies need to continue support for QIPC.
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Towards a QIT Industry

Further reading: T. P. Spiller and W. J. Munro, “Towards a quantum information technology industry”, J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 18 (2006) V1-V10.

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