- The Union Cabinet has approved the National Quantum Mission (NQM) at a total cost of Rs.6000 crores from 2023-24 to 2030-31 which made India become the seventh country with a dedicated quantum mission.
What is Quantum computing?
- Quantum computing is a rapidly-emerging technology that harnesses the laws of quantum mechanics to solve problems too complex for classical computers.
- Quantum computing uses quantum bits, or qubits.
- Classical computers employ a stream of electrical impulses (1 and 0) in a binary manner to encode information in bits. This restricts their processing ability, compared to quantum computing.
- Quantum computing uses subatomic particles, such as electrons or photons. Quantum bits, or qubits, allow these particles to exist in more than one state (i.e., 1 and 0) at the same time which allows a quantum computer to perform far more calculations with far fewer qubits.
About National Quantum Mission
- National Quantum Mission aims to seed, nurture and scale up scientific and industrial R&D and create a vibrant & innovative ecosystem in Quantum Technology (QT).
- Under the mission, Four thematic hubs will be set up to research quantum computing, quantum communications, quantum sensing and metrology, and quantum materials and devices.
- The NQM targets developing intermediate scale quantum computers with 50-1000 physical qubits in eight years in various platforms like superconducting and photonic technology.
- The NQM will develop satellite-based secure communications between ground stations over a range of 2,000 km, along with long-distance secure quantum communications with other countries, and a multi-node quantum communication network.
- The NQM mission will also develop magnetometers with high sensitivity, and atomic clocks to enable precision timing, communications, and navigation.
Significance of quantum computing
- A quantum computer could deliver accurate meteorological projections, perform seismic data analysis, analyze protein folding, etc.
- The tasks performed by them involve computations so complex that even supercomputers cannot handle them.
- The NQM can lead to benefits across fields as diverse as communications, health, financial sector, energy management, drug design, as well as aerospace and military applications.
Challenges associated with quantum computing
- Superpositions (where a qubit is both on and off) can collapse quickly.
- The software programming is different, and requires excellent error control and management.
- Researchers have found it hard to maintain physically stable configurations.
- They are huge installations which must be housed in super-cold, seismically stable places since even passing trucks can cause errors through imperceptible tremors.
- Special materials and rare helium isotopes are used to manage cooling and shielding, quite apart from specialized semiconductors.
- Quantum computers could potentially break most current encryption, by quickly solving the mathematical problems on which modern cryptography is based.
- Quantum applications in the related fields of communications and cryptography depend on another quantum property — “entanglement”. If two particles are entangled, a change in the state of one particle leads to instantaneous change in that of the paired particle.
- Cryptographically secure communications can be generated by separating two entangled particles. Scaling up the already demonstrated proof of concept in quantum key distribution, and secure quantum communications at short distances by the Indian Space Research Organisation to greater distances should be made possible.
- Extensive research into the design and synthesis of superconductors, novel semiconductor structures, and materials with complex topological structures as well as developing new software is needed.