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Five Trends For Quantum Science In 2022

Jan 14, 2022

Security CEO and Founder of  Safe Quantum Inc. , working with data-driven companies to define, develop and deploy quantum-safe technologies.

Quantum computer, electronic circuitry

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It seems that with each year, quantum computing moves closer to commercial viability.

In 2021, we saw increased formation of and activity from working groups uniting academia, research labs, the corporate world and government.

The U.S. government has continued to invest in the sector, and we’ve begun to see expansions of nascent quantum networks, building on work pioneered by scientists at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, among others.

But the fact remains, adoption of quantum computing will likely be evolutionary, based on available fiberoptic networks, equipment availability and affordability, and the foresight of IT and security professionals to embrace quantum technology early.

That said, quantum watchers should look for five opportunities in 2022:

1. Quantum-based encryption is closer than you think

The perceived beauty of quantum security is that it’s unhackable. Pending full-scale quantum functionality, though, the question has been how to take advantage of quantum encryption now to protect valuable data and infrastructure.

The answer is quantum key distribution, or QKD. QKD is a method of communication that shares a randomly generated “key” between two points of communication. The secure key encrypts and decrypts the message. In 2022, we’re going to hear more about QKD-on-a-chip, putting QKD technology into microchips that can be installed anywhere. This removes the physical barrier and will likely accelerate quantum-encrypted communication and data exchange. And the small form factor, low power consumption and low cost of production should also enable many businesses to adopt QKD much more quickly. 

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2. Quantum computing as a service (QCaaS) is on the horizon

One of the current drawbacks to quantum computing is cost. As adoption and innovation grow, no doubt the cost of equipment will also decline. Today, however, the hardware of quantum computers can be expensive and difficult to maintain for the average business. Enter quantum computing as a service, or QCaaS. Accessing quantum capabilities in the cloud from providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure may put quantum security and speed within reach of present-day technology. According to research from the Quantum Insider, while the current QCaaS market is small, it’s growing rapidly. I believe we’ll see other technology providers step into the QCaaS space by providing specific customers QKD security via the cloud with a fiberoptic pathway from the customer site to a termination point within the cloud data center.

3. Technology is catching up with the vision of a quantum internet

While small-scale quantum networks are being built, the idea of a widespread quantum internet is limited by how well the photons can maintain their viability as distances grow. We are beginning to see increased research into developing quantum memory and quantum repeaters, which will be necessary for the quantum internet. The memory will store the quantum state of a qubit and swap that state with another photon through teleportation. Quantum repeaters amplify photons and propel them down the line before they can degrade. Both techniques will be crucial to building the physical infrastructure needed for a quantum internet.

4. Critical infrastructure grids will be early adopters of quantum security

The surge in cyberattacks is not abating, putting utilities in the potential cross-hairs for a debilitating assault. The U.S. Department of Energy has made a national security goal of creating a smart grid, using secure two-way communication to protect the infrastructure and customers. Look for smart grid-enabled power utilities to be among the first commercial testbeds for quantum security solutions like QKD. 

5. Quantum technology companies are poised for growth and investment

On Oct. 1, IonQ became the first quantum computing company to go public with a valuation of about $2 billion, followed closely by Rigetti Computing with a $1.5 billion valuation. And 2021 also saw sizeable investments in quantum technology, from PsiQuantum’s $450 million infusion from BlackRock and Microsoft’s venture fund, among others, to Honeywell Quantum Solutions’ merger with Cambridge Quantum Computing and a planned investment of up to $300 million, the interest is building. It seems likely we’ll continue to see larger tech giants making investments in startups to expand their quantum capabilities, intent on bringing to market viable solutions sooner rather than later.

Any time government, RD and business join forces, you can expect to see progress. Accessibility to quantum technologies is expanding, and 2022 will likely be remembered as the year commercial quantum really began.

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