Scientific Foresight (STOA) By / March 18, 2016

Quantum Technologies or how microscopic things can change our lives

Written by Nera Kuljanic and Sarah McCormack, Over the past 15 years the EU has been supporting research into quantum…

Shutterstock / welcomia

Written by Nera Kuljanic and Sarah McCormack,

Quantum Technologies or how microscopic things can change our lives
Shutterstock / welcomia

Over the past 15 years the EU has been supporting research into quantum technologies. With a number of research projects being funded under the Horizon 2020 programme, the EU aims to stimulate interactions and collaborations amongst individuals and groups in Europe working in the field. Through the early investment into this field Europe is set to become one of the world leaders in quantum-enabled innovation, as there is ample evidence that we are able to transfer quantum technologies into commercial products for a rapidly growing market.

A workshop on quantum technologies will be hosted by the EP’s Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel on Wednesday 6 April 2016. It will examine key advances in this field in recent years and look ahead to the upcoming research challenges. The options for the economic and industrial exploitation of quantum technologies will be explored, as well as the balance between fundamental and applied research. Scientists will come together and discuss how and why quantum technologies could change the way we sense, compute and communicate. Industry representatives and entrepreneurs will speak on the disruptive potential of quantum technologies and how to get the most out of the market.

This event will address the need for creating a comprehensive European synergy on quantum research and innovation, a requirement for the advancement in this field. It will be chaired by the STOA Chair Paul Rübig and participants will be welcomed by Günther Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society.

What do quantum technologies do?

A large number of devices in our everyday lives are already based upon quantum physics, such as the GPS, lasers and transistors, explained Professor Serge Haroche, 2012 Nobel Prize winner, during his keynote speech at the STOA Annual Lecture in 2015. Quantum technologies provide new methods of computation algorithms, drawing upon quantum principles, which are unseen in classical analogues. Quantum technologies can create enhanced simulation capabilities (such as computers up to one million times faster than today), but also form the basis for producing incredibly sensitive and accurate clocks, and extremely accurate sensors. They also pave the way for more secure communications through potentially ‘unbreakable’ cryptography. Future performance of industrial applications will be defined by quantum limits.

How to make the most of this technology?

Henk Kamp, Minister for Economic Affairs of the Netherlands, representing the Council Presidency, will present a vision for quantum technologies in Europe. This is in line with the upcoming presentation of the ‘Quantum Manifesto’ which will describe a roadmap for preserving European leadership in quantum technologies, at a high-level conference taking place on 17 and 18 May 2016 in Amsterdam during the Dutch EU Presidency. He will set the stage for three keynote speeches, which will look into various aspects of quantum technologies. The scientific perspective will be addressed by Alain Aspect from the Institut d’Optique in Paris. A representative from industries currently heavily involved in the use of quantum technology will talk on the industry perspective. From QuTech, a Dutch quantum institute, Leo Kouwenhoven, a world leading expert in electronic properties of nanostructures and a recipient of the highest scientific award in the Netherlands, the Spinoza Prize, will focus on the engineering perspective of quantum technologies.

A panel made up of, but not limited to, MEPs Cora Van Nieuwenhuizen, STOA Panel member, and experts in this field, such as Kai Bongs, from the UK National Quantum Technology Hub in Sensors & Metrology, and Tommaso Calarco, from the Center for Integrated Quantum Science and Technology (ISQT) in Ulm, will discuss the substantial economic and societal impact that these technologies will invariably have. As quantum technologies are set to be invested in and are likely to become commercialised soon, this workshop will offer an opportunity to look at the effects they may have on a large scale.

Vladimir Šucha, Director-General of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, and Eva Kaili, MEP and STOA First Vice-Chair, will close the workshop.

With quantum technologies expected to enable innovations which could offer ways of addressing global challenges facing the world today, the STOA workshop on 6 April is a place to be in order to discover where we are at in the research and how far we could go in the years to come.

To register for the event please click here.

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