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The quantum computing industry is about to spring up, and fast. Soon, quantum computers will become practical. The U.S. Department of Energy has announced a total of 5 new National Quantum Information Science Research institutions. This is just the most recent developments in what is called the National Quantum Initiative Act. Signed into law back in December 2018, the act will see over $625 million dollars put into the field over the course of 5 years.
This is the first time that academic researchers in the United States will be working shoulder to shoulder with National Laboratory scientists and experienced industry leaders. This change should see the speed of fundamental quantum information science research increase. Further research brings humanity ever-closer to advancing quantum technologies to maturity. Once a viable fault-tolerant quantum computer is designed, that is.
Why Do We Even Need Quantum Computers?
Quantum computers will significantly speed up scientific discovery enabling us to resolve some of our biggest challenges. From cheaper, more effective pharmaceuticals to better materials used for manufacturing, the range of industries that will be positively impacted by quantum computation is truly vast. Over the last 50 years or so, conventional computer systems have greatly assisted molecular simulations, which has significantly advanced the field of material science. Even with the vast amount of computational power and humanity’s disposal, we are still unable to simulate complex molecular arrangements with enough precision to be worth-while. Quantum computing is about to change that.
Where conventional computer systems execute a complex series of logical circuits in order to run software programs, quantum computers rely on the fundamental rules of nature to manipulate information. More significantly, quantum computers utilize the underlying physics that is responsible for the phenomena of entanglement and superposition execute quantum circuits. At some point in the near future, quantum computers will be able to perform mathematical calculations at speeds that far outpace even the most powerful traditional computers that we have today.
The only way we are going to be able to make that happen, though, is if we can manage to build a quantum computer that is able to carry on its calculations without error. The thing is, quantum computers rely on qubits that are extremely sensitive to outside interference. Any kind of out-of-system noise, even something as classicly benign as normal levels of heat and small vibrations can easily destroy the data stored within qubits.
At of yet, a single team has been unable to get past this roadblock. It will more than likely required a concerted effort of hundreds of scientists and researchers from all corners of the market including national laboratories, academia, and industry to advance the field to that point. In these new centers we will get the long-overdue mix of talent from all sectors working together on quantum problems in order to provide quantum solutions.