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Australian Defence investing AU$6 million for the development of quantum technologies

Australian Defence investing AU$6 million for the development of quantum technologies

Last week, the Australian Minister for Defence Industry, the
Hon Christopher Pyne MP, announced a AU$6 million investment for industry,
academia and government research agencies to contribute to the development of
quantum technologies [1] for Defence.

According to the press release, quantum Technologies is a
key element of the AU$730 million Next Generation Technologies Fund (NGTF [2]) which is designed to provide
game changing capabilities for the Australian Defence Force of the future.

This investment will be directed towards research to
accelerate the exploitation of quantum technologies in a range of applications.
Quantum technology proposals are being sought in two categories:

Smaller proposals which deliver studies to inform Defence on
the applications, feasibility and practical limitations of quantum technologies

Larger proposals which address the development of concepts,
algorithms and/or technology demonstrators which contribute to the development
of Defence relevant capabilities

Proposals should address one or
more of the following priority areas: 1) Quantum Sensing, Navigation and Timing; 2) Quantum Communications; and 3) Quantum
Computing and Information.

For instance, quantum technologies could be used for the development
of highly accurate time-keeping and advanced Global Positioning System
(GPS)-independent navigation. Currently, GPS cannot be used underwater or
indoors, and it is vulnerable to being blocked either by illegal jamming
devices or solar weather activity. Industries reliant on GPS could stand to
benefit significantly from a more precise and robust alternative.

Minister Pyne says quantum technologies have tremendous
potential to lead to profound benefits in many sectors, including healthcare,
communications, and Defence.

“Quantum technologies could bring game changing advantages
for Defence, in areas including timing, sensing and navigation capabilities,
communications and quantum computing,” he said.

“Supported by the Next Generation Technologies Fund, the
goal of Quantum Technologies research is to inform Defence of the potential
benefits and practical limitations of quantum technologies through studies and
demonstrator systems within three years. I strongly encourage Australian
industries and universities to contribute to this research with their
innovative technologies and ideas.” Minister Pyne added.

The call for applications, along with further information
can be found on the Defence Innovation website http://www.business.gov.au/cdic.

 [1] What is quantum computing?

At the subatomic
level, the laws of classical physics no longer apply.  Particles can exist
in more than one state at a time. Quantum computing utilises these
quantum-mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, to
perform operations on data. Entanglement occurs when pairs or groups of particles
are generated or interact in ways such that the quantum state of each particle
(such as the polarisation of a photon) cannot be described independently of the
others, even when the particles are separated by a large distance, while
superposition states that any two (or more) quantum states can be added
together and the result will be another valid quantum state.

A classical bit can be
in one of two states, 0 or 1, whereas a single qubit  or quantum bit can
represent a 1, a 0 or any quantum superposition of those two qubit states. This
implies that qubits can store a lot more information than classical bits, using
less energy. Only when we measure to find out what state it's actually in at
any given, the qubit "collapses" into one of its possible states, giving
the answer to problem. A quantum computer's ability to work in parallel would
make it millions of times faster than any conventional computer.

Large-scale quantum
computers would theoretically be able to solve certain problems much more
quickly than any classical computers that use the best currently known
algorithms. They could potentially solve in a matter of hours, complex problems
that would take a digital supercomputer more than a lifetime to achieve.

[2] The NGTF together with the Defence Innovation Hub,
forms the core of a new integrated defence innovation system for Australia, as
outlined in the Government’s Defence
Industry Policy Statement
. NGTF has been allocated an investment of around
AU$730 million till June 2026, while the Defence Innovation Hub will receive
around AU$640 million over the decade to FY 2025–26. These two signature
innovation research and development programs, together with the Centre for
Defence Industry Capability (CDIC),
deliver on the Government‘s AU$1.6 billion commitment to grow Australia's
defence industry and innovation sector. Both NGTF and the Defence Innovation
Hub are under the Department of Defence, while CDIC is under the Department of
Industry, Innovation and Science.

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