Quantum computing is moving into the mainstream. Now Google, Intel, IBM, Microsoft, Alibaba, as well as pharma, automotive, materials and other billion-dollar giants are announcing product development milestones and partnerships in quantum computing. IBM predict that within 5 years, the effects of quantum computing will reach beyond the research lab. Researchers globally predict that revenues in the field could grow to US$1.9 billion by 2023, increasing to US$8.0 billion by 2027.

Quantum computers could be the catalyst for designing new complex molecules with defined characteristics such as  perfect battery, or for new energy resources. Within the cybersecurity space,  researchers are developing technologies that are resistant to quantum hacking and others developing quantum computers that will enable more secured systems.

“The future of quantum computing is closer than ever. It will become more and more ordinary in the next 25 years.”

Dr. Michal Vakrat Wolkin. Israel’s Quantum Queen.

Dr Michal Vakrat Wolkin is an Israel-based Applied Physicist. She was head of R&D for 3M, and now manages Lear Corporation Innovation and Investments in the future of connected and autonomous cars. In Silicon Valley, she’s worked for NASA in a Centennial Challenge with Cleantech Open and was a member of research staff at Xerox PARC. Tech contributor Amir Mizroch recently asked Michal about the arrival of quantum computers and what the implications could be for global society.

What Is Quantum Computing? What Does It Look like?

“Almost 20 years ago I wrote my PhD thesis on quantum mechanics which in general deals with the behavior of matter and its interactions with energy on the scale of atoms and subatomic particles. I showed how Silicon quantum dots can emit light in the entire UV to IR spectrum due to photons recombination from quantum confinement and electronic states in the bandgap, exhibiting a wave-particle duality.”

“Some really important things in our world work on quantum mechanics”

Use Cases Include:

“Things like lasers for industrial, medical, security, and fiber optic communication; “Semiconductor devices (your phone, solar cells, light emitting diodes, and memory chips); Imaging technologies (think CT scans); Sensors (pressure and humidity, biomedical and drug discovery, environmental etc); Batteries and fuel cells (electric vehicle battery, H2 and other types of fuel cells).”

“There’s quantum stuff going on inside all of those as the quantum effects change the way devices work,  modify their design and fundamental properties. But now that quantum stuff is going to into computers too, making them much more super than the supercomputers we currently have that do things like figuring out our DNA.”

How Does Quantum Computing Work?

“One of the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics is called superposition, where a quantum particle such as a photon or electron (they’re really, really small) can be in two different states at the same time: a zero and one, simultaneously. Einstein called it spooky. But it is a fundamental law of quantum mechanics and it is the building block of a quantum computer.  In classical computing, a bit is a single piece of information that can exist in two states 1 or 0. Quantum computing uses quantum bits, or ‘qubits’ instead. These are quantum systems with two states.

“However, unlike a usual bit, qubits (quantum bits) use more streams of calculations than just 1 or 0, because they can exist in any superposition of these values. This makes them vastly more powerful.”

“For example, having a two qubits quantum processor, means that there are four possible results of measuring their state: (1,1), (0,0), (0,1 and 1,0). Similarly, there are 8 possible results for three qubits, 16 for four, and so on.”

Will Quantum Computer Look Like Regular Computers?

D-Wave Systems Quantum Annealer: Users include Google, NASA, Lockheed Martin.

“Quantum computers are super delicate. To keep particles in a superposition state (0 and 1), at a specific distance between each other, and in a specific atomic/ physical design to perform a quantum algorithm, interference of  outside environments must be avoided. Any change in temperature, magnetic radiation — even sound waves– will create errors in the superposition design and will stop the calculation. So quantum computers probably won’t look or work like our current computers in the near term. They’ll have a different electronic design, and they’ll need to be cooled to below zero. They’ll also be big –room size—at least at first.  Until now researchers from Google, NASA, and many other Fortune 500 companies have used machines from Canadian company D-Wave which cost $15M and are 10 feet tall.”

How Will They Change Our Lives And Industries?

“D-Wave machines have been used to solve complex problems in drug discovery, cybersecurity and space exploration that existing computers can’t even scratch the surface of.”

“Quantum computing is starting to move into the mainstream, faster and broader than ever before. Google, Intel, IBM, Microsoft, Alibaba, as well as pharma, automotive, materials and other billion-dollar giants are announcing product development milestones and partnerships in quantum computing.”

One of the main applications for quantum computing is in the simulation of molecules. Chemistry, medicine, energy, materials and manufacturing are the verticals most likely to see the most rapid change over the next 5 years. Future quantum computers could enable you to design new chemicals and drugs for fighting diseases like cancer and even design new materials for more energy efficient buildings.

“Researchers are  starting to use quantum computers to design new complex molecules with defined characteristics such as for the perfect battery, or for new energy resources.Within the cybersecurity,  researchers are developing technologies that are resistant to quantum hacking and others developing quantum computers that will enable more secured systems.”

Quantum powered simulation could be the catalyst for the creation for new fertilisers for food and drugs for cancer

Who’s Winning In The Quantum Race?

“At the moment companies and researchers are using handful of different approaches in terms of quantum computer design, algorithms, and materials to try and build the most powerful computer. Google and IBM are in a race to build the largest processor. They recently announced plans to commercialise a quantum computer with 50 Qubits in the next few years.”

“The status of their machines is not yet stable and can operate for less than 100 microseconds due to stability issues, but the goal is clear.”

In February 2018 Intel announced that it had found a way of fabricating quantum chips from silicon, which would make it much easier to produce chips using existing manufacturing methods. D-Wave recently raised $50M to get their technology in the hands of everyday developers.”

Supercharging AI

“The advancement of AI is already happening, but with power of a quantum computer machines may sooner rather than later be able to be human like in its capabilities. Governments and research institutes worldwide are starting to take advantage of such computation power and build the next generation military defence and offense tools.”

“The future of quantum computing is closer than ever. It will become more and more ordinary in the next 25 years.”

Interview conducted by  Amir Mizroch contributor for Forbes. Formerly a Tech Editor at The Wall Street Journal, Amir now heads communications for Start-Up Nation Central, an NGO bringing Israeli innovation to wherever it’s needed in the world. 

Welcome to Quantumbusiness.org. The first news portal dedicated to exploring the quantum computing revolution and its forthcoming impact on global industry. For more information on content creation and the opportunity to share your story with the world, please contact our lead editor Hal Briggs [hal@quantumbusiness.org].