Science & Technology
Topic: General Studies 3:
- Awareness in the fields of IT
Context: India’s slow progress of research in Quantum technology whereby serious experimental work has been under way for only about five years, and in few locations.
In contrast countries like US, Europe & China have focused on the field since past two decades and are on the verge of major breakthroughs
Constraints on India’s progress
- Lack of sufficient resources
- Inadequate high quality manpower
- Lack of timeliness and flexibility
- Slow Implementation: A programme called Quantum Enabled Science and Technology has been fully rolled out now, more than two years after the call for proposals.
What is Quantum Technology?
It is a class of technology that works by using the principles of quantum mechanics (the physics of sub-atomic particles), including quantum entanglement and quantum superposition.
- Quantum entanglement is when two atoms are connected, or entangled, despite being separated.
- Quantum superposition is the theory that sub-atomic particles exist in multiple states simultaneously.
A timeline of Quantum Mechanics
- It was developed in the early 20th century to describe nature in the small — at the scale of atoms and elementary particles.
- It helped in understanding of the physical world, including the interaction of light and matter and on subjects such as gravity and black holes.
- It led to ubiquitous inventions such as lasers and semiconductor transistors
- A second revolution is currently under way with the goal of controlling and harnessing the properties of quantum mechanics.
Quantum field has not yet matured for commercialization, due to the extreme scientific challenges involved some of which are:
- Technical Difficulties: The challenge lies in harnessing the properties of quantum superposition and entanglement in a highly controlled manner by building a system composed of carefully designed building blocks called quantum bits or qubits.
- Fragility of Qubits: A qubit or quantum bit is the basic unit of quantum information—the quantum version of the binary bit (0 and 1) in classical computing
- These qubits tend to be very fragile and lose their “quantumness” if not controlled properly, and a careful choice of materials, design and engineering is required to get them to work.
- Theoretical Challenges of creating the algorithms and applications for quantum computers
- Google’s Sycamore demonstrated the quantum supremacy
- China demonstrated secure quantum communication links between terrestrial stations and satellites.
About National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications (NM-QTA)
- The mission will oversee the development of quantum technologies for communications, computing, materials development and cryptography.
- The mission addresses the constraints (listed above) that led to slow progression of country in quantum field, through adoption of holistic approach.
- Announced in Budget 2020
- Period: Five years (2020-25)
- Total Funds: Rs 8000 years
- Implementing Body: Department of Science & Technology (DST)
Significance of the mission:
- The mission may eventually lead to the creation of a super-secure communication network
- It will help prepare next generation skilled manpower, boost translational research and also encourage entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem development.
- It will find utility in finding solution for complex problems in fields of computing, communications, sensing, chemistry, cryptography, imaging and mechanic
- The mission will enable India to emerge as Global leader in the field through increased investment & focus in Quantum Technologies
- Increase private funding, both via industry and philanthropy, as they can play an outsized role even with much smaller amounts and compliment the efforts of government
- Institutional Autonomy as there is a need to create a vibrant intellectual environment to help attract top researchers.
- Industry- Academia Collaboration: Connections with Indian industry from the start would help quantum technologies become commercialised successfully.
Connecting the dots:
- Cryptography- utility & challenges
- Artificial Intelligence – its utility and challenges
- Block Chain technology