A new £270m strategy into quantum technology growth has been established, designed to guide research into everything from 6G smartphones to quantum computers. The UK National Quantum Technology Programme is set up to deliver a profitable quantum industry in the UK over the next 20 years in what it predicts holds billion-pound potential.
"From finance and telecommunications to energy, aerospace and transport, new quantum technologies will have a significant impact on many of the world's biggest markets. [Quantum technologies] may substantially improve on what is possible with current technology," said Bob Cockshott, Quantum Lead the Knowledge Transfer Network.
Quantum technologies have been touted as having revolutionary potential in a wide range of fields, ranging from cameras that can see through the ground for the purpose of sinkhole detection, to the next generation 5G and 6G mobile networks. One of the most intriguing prospects with quantum technologies is in the area of quantum computing.
What is quantum computing?
Quantum computers replace traditional bits that are used in digital communications with quantum bits, or qubits. Potential applications can be found in a variety of fields, from medicine to space travel.
Qubits exist in a state of superposition, meaning they can be in both states at once, rather than restricted to either binary state as traditional bits function.
Research into quantum computing has been seen as high-risk, high-reward, due to the complex nature of combining computer science with quantum physics.
Companies and organisations around the world, including the CIA, Google and NASA, are currently developing the technology in the belief that it could be the future of computing, capable of sating our ever-growing technological needs and of solving some of the world's biggest problems.
As part of the latest UK strategy, four universities - Birmingham, Glasgow, Oxford and York - will serve as hubs for the research, with the eventual aim of bringing the technology out of the laboratory and into the marketplace.
"This investment into Quantum Technologies represents the biggest single investment in a disruptive technology of the modern era," said David Delpy, chair of the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme Strategic Advisory Board.
"The UK has long been recognised as a world leader in quantum research, and we now have a real chance to build a solid and successful industrial base around that excellence in fundamental science and engineering."