Q-CTRL survey reveals R&D community wishlist for quantum hardware
November 29, 2022
Quantum computing gets a lot of attention - and rightfully so. It is positioned to add a powerful new tool to our arsenal of computing resources. And advances in computing have been the drivers of every major development we’ve recently seen in society - from the information economy to autonomous vehicles and advances in healthcare.
But quantum computing is just the first application of the quantum tech revolution.
Quantum sensing is even more exciting to us because it’s not just limited to information processing - and it’s likely to be here much sooner.
Quantum sensing may dramatically reduce the cost of minerals exploration, enable autonomous vehicles to navigate without GPS, and help predict and prevent droughts.
Sensing - used in all industries from biotech and automotive to defense - is already predicted to be a $300Bn+ market by 2025. And quantum sensing unlocks some amazing new possibilities in areas we already know are facing limits.
Quantum technology exploits the physics of very small things to perform useful tasks. The technology is very sensitive to the world around it - for the most part that’s a challenge, but quantum sensing lets us put this fragility to work in detecting tiny signals for aerospace, defense, and civilian applications.
Some of the early identified quantum sensing applications include their deployment for measuring tiny magnetic fields or detecting changes in gravity. These sound pretty esoteric but underpin some large established markets such as mining and navigation for autonomous vehicles or in space where there is no GPS.
There’s no free lunch, and the sensitivity of quantum sensors often makes them susceptible to many forms of interference. This is where Q-CTRL’s core competence enters. Adding quantum control can help extract more - and more useful - information from quantum sensing hardware even in the presence of interference. Our whole approach is to lead with software as we design new hardware systems that outperform the competition.
Quantum control is able to improve the ability of quantum sensors to detect desired “target” signals and reject other sources of interference that can otherwise obscure the target. Our early studies have identified over 500x improvements in the ability of quantum sensors for gravity based on cold atoms to resist the interference caused when they’re operated on real platforms like airplanes or ships.
We call the new hardware we are building "quantum-control-defined quantum sensors" in a manner evocative of software-defined radio. Control is what turns basic hardware into extraordinary capability.
Right now, armed with our special capabilities in quantum control, Q-CTRL is building quantum-control-defined quantum sensors to be used in a new generation of ultra-stable navigation systems with our partners Advanced Navigation. This partnership provides an amazing opportunity to enable stable GPS-free navigation in both civilian and defense settings over weeks, not hours.
If GPS-free navigation is somehow not exciting enough, don’t forget that Q-CTRL is taking quantum sensing to the Moon. Q-CTRL is proud to be a member of the Seven Sisters Consortium contributing to a new lunar mission with partners in Australia. We're bringing space-qualified quantum sensors and navigation systems to the Moon and from there on to Mars. And it's only possible because of our unique capabilities in quantum-control defined hardware.
Quantum sensing for navigation will accelerate some of the biggest sectors today - from mining through to autonomous vehicle networks. But what’s most exciting is how quantum sensors - powered and enabled by quantum control - will give us capabilities we’ve never had before.
We’re building an entirely new way of seeing the planet through gravity, developing a persistent near-earth observation capability using small low-cost satellites. And this capability can only come within reach because the new quantum control techniques we’ve developed show how we can dramatically reduce the size of the sensors we need to fit in a satellite.
That may provide totally new insights into how water is moving underground and even how ocean currents are changing over time. Space-based quantum gravimeters may prove the essential technology to help us predict and even prevent drought or the impacts of mining activity on water and agriculture
Quantum sensing provides a near term opportunity to deliver transformational new technologies to humanity. It’s all part of the quantum revolution we’re building at Q-CTRL and powering with quantum control.
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