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Australia explores quantum technology development

Image credit: CSIRO; Growing Australia's Quantum Technology Industry

Over the next 20 years, quantum technologies have the potential to generate 16,000 jobs in the country and will play a significant role in its technology sector.

According to Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), as Australia recovers from the impacts of COVID-19, it will need to create new industries to give the country to produce unique high-margin products that support higher wages.

A new CSIRO report, Growing Australia’s Quantum Technology Industry, is a roadmap that provides a vision to leverage the potential of emerging quantum technologies and positions Australia to capture a four billion-dollar opportunity.

A push for quantum research and development (R&D) would help drive economic advantage as the world begins to re-emerge following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commercialising quantum technologies could create an $86 billion global industry by 2040.

The report claimed that quantum technologies could be as significant as the digital electronics revolution. Quantum computers are used to run accurate chemical simulations for accelerated drug and materials development, which is not possible on classical computers.

The technology is also applied in stable and precise sensors for mineral exploration and water resource management.

The report outlines several other areas of application for quantum technology. It noted that quantum computers will be able to perform feature mapping, a critical component of machine learning on data structures with complexity beyond the capabilities of traditional computers.

Quantum computing could aid complex system optimisation problems, in financial modelling, aerofoil design, traffic management, integrated circuit design, climate predictions, epidemiology and energy systems optimisation.

Quantum-enabled medical imaging technologies could provide enhanced capabilities for the early detection of diseased tissue states. Quantum microscopes could offer nanoscale sensing and imaging at the atomic scale with emerging applications including medical research and nanomaterials development.

Accelerometers, magnetometers, and clocks that use the technology can enable precision positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) in global positioning system (GPS)-denied environments such as underground or underwater.

To maintain a productive, inclusive, and resilient economy over the next 40 years, Australia needs to increase the adoption of technology to boost productivity and develop export-facing growth industries.

The development of a quantum technology industry presents a prime opportunity to address these actions as part of a portfolio approach to investment in long-term, high-impact technologies.

Quantum technologies can improve productivity and increase the nation’s economic resilience through high value-adding industry creation.

The country commercialised quantum-enabled sensing and measurement technologies such as the CSIRO’s LandTEM system (a portable magnetic sensor for detection of mineral deposits deep underground) and the CryoClock (a cryogenic sapphire oscillator technology for ultra-precise timing applications such as communications and quantum computing).

The technology could also improve data, communications, and computer security. For example, quantum key distribution (QKD), where cryptographic keys are shared in quantum states.

As measuring a quantum system disturbs it, attempts to intercept the key will introduce detectable anomalies, making it possible to detect an unauthorised third party.

Quantum-safe classical encryption algorithms are being designed to resist quantum computing-enabled code breaking attacks and will be essential for the future security of non-quantum communication systems.

Other governments have started implementing strategic investment programs to develop their domestic quantum industries. Since 2017, at least five nations have committed to billion-dollar scale quantum technology initiatives or funding packages, the report explained.

The country aims to have a world-class quantum workforce applying their diverse skills to the commercialisation of quantum technology and software, with broader benefits through transferable skills and productivity gains.

Also, national quantum technology and flexible fabrication facilities that enable collaborative R&D, engagement with end-users, and product prototyping for global value chains


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