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National Quantum Mission

Context: The recently approved National Quantum Mission could be a game changer in multiple sectors, from defence, energy, and environment to healthcare and civil applications.

About the National Quantum Mission (NQM)

Implementing Agency and Duration

  • The mission will be implemented by the Department of Science & Technology (DST) under the Ministry of Science & Technology from 2023 to 2031 with an outlay of ₹6,003 crores.

Key features of the Mission

  • The new mission targets developing- 
    • Intermediate-scale quantum computers with 50-1000 physical qubits in 8 years in various platforms like superconducting and photonic technology,
    • Satellite-based secure quantum communications between ground stations over a range of 2000 kilometers within India,
    • Long-distance secure quantum communications with other countries,
    • Inter-city quantum key distribution over 2000 km as well as,
    • Multi-node Quantum network with quantum memories.
  • The mission will help develop magnetometers with high sensitivity for precision timing (atomic clocks), communications, and navigation.
  • It will also support design and synthesis of quantum materials such as superconductors, novel semiconductor structures and topological materials for fabrication of quantum devices.
  • Four Thematic Hubs (T-Hubs) would be set up in top academic and National R&D institutes on the domains of Quantum Technology:
    • Quantum computation
    • Quantum communication
    • Quantum Sensing & Metrology
    • Quantum Materials & Devices.

Significance of the National Quantum Mission

  • Technological Advancement: By investing in quantum computing, India can stay at the forefront of technological advancements and drive innovation across various industries.
  • Economic Growth: Quantum computing has the potential to unlock new opportunities and create entirely new industries, which can contribute to economic growth, job creation, and entrepreneurship in India.
  • Scientific Leadership: The mission aims to develop a strong research ecosystem in quantum computing and related fields. By promoting fundamental research, collaboration among academia, industry, and research institutions, and the recruitment of top talent, India can establish itself as a scientific leader in the field.
  • National Security: Quantum computing has implications for national security, cryptography, and defense. It has the potential to break traditional encryption methods, posing risks to sensitive information and communication systems. By investing in quantum computing capabilities, India can address these security concerns, develop quantum-safe encryption methods, and enhance its defense capabilities.
  • Societal Impact: Quantum computing can contribute to advancements in drug discovery, optimization of supply chains, development of personalized medicine, simulation of complex systems, and addressing climate change, among other areas.

Necessary measures to be taken to achieve the goals of NQM

  • Strategic Vision and Policy: India needs a well-defined strategic vision and policy framework for quantum computing. This includes setting clear goals, defining priorities, and outlining the roadmap for research, development, and application of quantum technologies.
  • Research and Development: Strong emphasis on research and development is crucial. India needs to invest in fundamental research in quantum computing, quantum algorithms, quantum information theory, and related areas.
  • Infrastructure Development: Building a robust infrastructure for quantum computing is essential. This includes establishing state-of-the-art quantum laboratories, quantum computing facilities, and quantum testbeds.
  • Talent Development: Developing a skilled workforce is critical for the success of the mission. India needs to focus on talent development in quantum computing, quantum information science, and related disciplines.
  • Industry Collaboration: Collaboration with industry is essential for translating quantum research into practical applications and commercialization.

What is Quantum Computing?

  • Quantum Computing utilizes principles of quantum mechanics to carry out computation.
  • Unlike classical computing, which uses bits that can only be in one of two states (0 or 1), quantum computing uses quantum bits (qubits) that can be in multiple states at once.
  • This allows quantum computers to perform certain types of calculations faster than classical computers, and to solve problems that are difficult or impossible for classical computers to solve.
  • Properties of Quantum Computing:
    • Superimposition: Superposition is the ability of a Quantum Computing system to be in multiple states simultaneously.
    • Entanglement: It is the state where two systems are so strongly correlated that getting information about one system will give immediate information about the other, even if they are far apart.
    • Interference: Interference can control quantum states and amplify the signals that go towards the right answer, while signals that are leading to the wrong answer are cancelled.
Quantum Computing vs Classical Computing
Quantum Computing vs Classical Computing

Benefits of Quantum Computing

  • Increase processing speed: Compared to classical computers, including super computers, Quantum Computing can process information faster.
  • Scientific discoveries: Quantum Computer can be used to fasten scientific discoveries of life-saving drugs, and improve supply chains, logistics and the modelling of financial data.
  • Higher privacy: The security of Quantum Computing is very high. Quantum Computing are difficult to be hacked due to their use of qubits.
  • Emerging technologies: Quantum Computing have application in emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning due to their faster processing.
  • Disaster prediction: Quantum Computing can be used to predict disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, droughts etc. through advanced calculation.

Concerns Associated with Quantum Computing

  • Higher cost: The cost of setting of a Quantum Computing system is high. It will require significant support from multinational companies.
  • Temperature control: Quantum computers dissipate high heat and consume a high amount of electric power. They require low temperatures for operation.
  • High error rate: The error rate of Quantum Computing is high in comparison to the error rate of conventional computers.
  • Sensitivity to Environment: Quantum technology is highly sensitive to environmental interference, such as temperature changes, magnetic fields, and vibrations.
    • Qubits are easily disrupted by their surroundings which can cause them to lose their quantum properties and make mistakes in calculations.
  • Limited Control: It is difficult to control and manipulate quantum systems. Quantum-powered AI could create unintended consequences.

Other Important Initiatives by the Government

Quantum-Enabled Science and Technology (QuEST) The Department of Science and Technology (DST) will invest to develop infrastructure and facilitate research in the field of quantum technologies.
Quantum Frontier mission The Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) will promote understanding and control of quantum mechanical systems.
Quantum Computer Simulator Toolkit (QSim) This will help researchers and students to write and debug Quantum Code that is necessary for developing Quantum Algorithms and carry out research in the field.
I-HUB QTF DST and research groups from IISER have launched I-HUB Quantum Technology Foundation (I-HUB QTF) to develop quantum technology.
Quantum Computing Applications Lab The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has collaborated with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to facilitate quantum computing-led research and development.

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