The World Quantum Day, celebrated on April 14th, is an initiative from quantum scientists all over the planet to engaging the public in the understanding of quantum science and technology.
Quantum mechanics is the theory that allows us to describe Nature in its most fundamental level, that of the elementary particles and forces that constitute the Universe. In doing so, it is at the origin of a veritable technological revolution through many technologies that helped shape society and are ubiquitous in our lives today.
This includes modern electronics systems, such as computers and mobiles phones; the global positioning system (GPS); magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines; lasers; and many others. They are part of the so-called first generation of quantum technologies, which rely on a limited control of quantum effects.
However, a second generation of quantum technologies is already on the horizon, taking full advantage of the behaviour of matter on the atomic scale and offering new capabilities for computation, communication, sensors, and other applications.
Regular computers are built on transistor-based bits that can assume only assume distinct values at a time (either “0” or “1”). Meanwhile, quantum mechanics allows the quantum computer’s bits, or qubits, to be in a special physical state called superposition, which means they can exist as “0” and “1” at the same time.
This and other quantum properties, allow quantum computers to perform certain operations that are too difficult, or even impossible, for regular computers. These incredible machines represent a potentially massive market opportunity in several sectors, including aerospace, chemistry, pharmaceuticals, finance, and many others.
And as they approach widespread commercial application, these incredible machines represent a potentially massive market opportunity in several sectors, including aerospace, chemistry, pharmaceuticals, finance, and many others.
In the aerospace sector, quantum computing can help optimize the design for air- and spacecrafts, or the best routes for missions, allocating resources optimally to minimize disruptions. For the chemical industry, it will be able to better predict and simulate the properties and behaviour of new molecular structures, such as materials for the new generation of batteries.
In the pharmaceutical industry, quantum computers will accelerate drug development by identifying and validating molecular structures, such as protein folding, and interaction their interactions. Even in the finance sector, they can help institutions optimize investment portfolios, characterize anomalous transactions, and detect fraud.
The EQUALITY consortium brings together scientists, innovators, and prominent industrial players with the mission of developing cutting-edge quantum computer algorithms to solve strategic industrial problems related to energy storage materials and systems, aerodynamics, and space mission optimisation and data analysis.
These problems are computationally complex and are faced routinely by the industrial partners in the project. In many cases, the computational requirements are enormous, forcing engineers to use simplistic models or rely on expensive build-and-test cycles.
Hence, the opportunity provided by quantum computers to tackle such questions computationally would give a competitive edge to the European industry, unlocking billions of euros for end-users and technology providers over the coming decades.
The day of April 14th was chosen for the World Quantum Day as a reference to 4.14, the rounded first digits of Planck’s constant: 4.135667696…×10^−15 eV.s, the fundamental constant governing quantum physics.
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