4.4 Quantum Information Technologies

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Even if the main thrust of the ongoing investigations in QIPC still belongs to basic research, one can already identify some of its areas that are closer to potential applications and even ready for commercial exploitation (a (in)complete list of industries that are interested in QIPC can be browsed at the QUROPE industry database).

In particular:

  • Quantum Communication has reached the market since few years ago, when two companies – the European idQuantique and the US one MagiQ) announced almost simultaneously in 2004 the availability of a commercial quantum cryptography product. Other European companies developed commercial quantum key distribution scheme such as Elsag plc and SmartQuantum; moreover, in Japan major industrial players – NEC, Mitsubishi, Toshiba and NTT among others – started to allocate entire development teams to QKD systems (which did result in NEC and Mitsubishi already presenting working prototypes).
  • Quantum Computation promises to deliver in the mid-term few-qubit quantum simulators which could be used to simulate the dynamics of complex systems (notice that a system with more than 30 qubits would be already beyond the reach of any foreseeable classical machine). Such few-qubit quantum computers will have also applications in quantum communication (as quantum repeaters), where they will be used to extend the working distances of quantum key distribution protocols beyond the current limitations.
  • Quantum Information Science – Theory can also provide applications in the form of new classical simulation techniques for quantum many-body systems. Results from entanglement theory have in fact already led to fruitful generalizations of, e.g., the density matrix renormalization group method. The development of improved simulation techniques will lead to a deeper understanding of strongly correlated quantum systems (e.g., high-Tc superconductors, quantum magnets, etc.), which are of central interest in several areas of physics and that, in turn, will provide the basis for new technological applications.

A fresh look at QIPC from the broadest possible perspective also allows the identification of technologies that have gone past the proof-of-principle phase and are approaching the real world deployment stage. These Quantum Information Technologies (QITs) which are designed to control and manipulate single or entangled quantum systems for (quantum) information processing and communication, can be split into two main categories, being

  • either technologies which represents genuine applications of QIPC (quantum information enabled technologies),
  • or technologies which are needed for further advancing the field of QIPC (quantum information enabling technologies).

In what follows we detail the most promising technologies belonging to the first category, and the most needed ones as far as the second category is concerned.