How quantum technologies will be revolutionising your industry

Quantum technologies are devices, applications and techniques that exploit the properties of quantum mechanics  a typically misunderstood field of physics. Quantum mechanics is a relatively recent theory that explains the physics of matter at very small scales, where the rules of conventional physics no longer apply. This article summarises some of the key quantum technologies that are currently being developed and their potential to significantly impact a number of industries including manufacturing and engineering.
 
Quantum clocks

Quantum clocks are based on trapped ions and atoms that can measure time with an accuracy that far exceed their classical counterparts. They have applications in telecommunications networks, where they can improve the resilience and efficiency of data transfer rates; and meet requirements for the difference in network rates. Financial markets need improved accuracy in timing signals to synchronise trading systems and monitor trade activity. Advances in computer based trading mean improvement in synchronisation and traceability to a common reference timescale, which can prevent trading irregularities and provide an audit trail.
 
Quantum imaging
 
Quantum imaging involves the detection and timing of single photons to significantly improve on classical limits and can even make the “invisible visible”. Quantum mechanics has allowed the development of cameras that can not only better the performance of a conventional cutting edge camera, but also provide new forms of imaging never seen before (such as looking around corners and visibility through fog).
 
In medical imaging quantum technology could provide optical images inside the body without exposing patients to ionising radiation that occurs with x-ray machines. It can achieve this by mapping the tiny changes in gravity from objects and organs. Infrared imaging can allow firefighters to have visibility through smoke and for engineers to view gas leaks. The ability of quantum imaging in low light surveillance and microscopy can lead to applications in security, military, agricultural, oil and gas and environmental monitoring.
 
Quantum sensors

Quantum sensors can enable the detection of motion, light, electromagnetic fields and gravity with an accuracy that surpasses conventional technologies. They can offer a step change in performance that is more sensitive, accurate and stable than current technology.
 
In civil engineering, conducting underground surveys that are efficient, cost effective and non-invasive would be a huge advantage. Quantum sensors for measuring gravity  have many advantages in being faster, more precise and having enhanced depth penetration. In natural resource exploration, quantum enhanced gravity mapping allows faster surveys at a fraction of the cost for identifying new reserve of oil and gas.
 
In Healthcare, quantum magnetometers can offer a solution for the high cost and complexity of brain scans, while offering higher sensitivity. They would also require less shielding from magnetic fields and would eliminate the need of expensive cryogenic systems, which is a huge advantage. Quantum magnetometers can also significantly improve on magnetic induction tomography, which is a technique for diagnosing the causes of heart disease.
 
Quantum communications

Quantum communications can be used to provide very high security when transmitting sensitive data. In particular, there are unique applications in cryptography. Cryptography underpins all technology in a networked society e.g. web browsers, mobile phone, etc. Cryptographic keys are used to encrypt data at one end and decrypt it at other, therefore providing secured data transfer. A principle known as 'quantum entanglement' can be used to ensure the system cannot be broken by any advances in computing and mathematics.
 
Quantum computers

When quantum mechanics are applied to computing, it can result in a new generation of computers that operate in a fundamentally unique way with much greater processing power for certain applications. Quantum computers have the potential to be much faster than conventional supercomputers. 
 
Smaller quantum computers, called quantum simulators, are potentially easier to produce and have applications in the design of new materials, drugs and other molecules. This has been shown to be commercially realisable through company’s like D–wave, who developed a semiconductor quantum simulator where quantum effects can be observed using a very low temperature cryogenic system. This cutting edge technology has been installed in several large companies and institutes. 

Barriers to adoption

Technology funding

The UK Government has worked to address this and between 2012 and 2016 there was a 100% increase in research funding from £15 million to £30 million through funding programs such as Innovate UK.

The companies that have invested heavily to stay ahead of the competition have been able to benefit from R&D tax relief. Our team of engineers and scientists are able to assist in this area by claiming R&D tax relief on behalf of clients.  Since the scheme began in 2000 our team has successfully claimed back around £150m for our clients across all business sectors with a 100% success rate.

Skilled workforce

Our R&D: Tax and Grants team recommends that the UK must also ensure there is a skilled workforce able to meet the future demand, along with supporting university research. Involving industrial partners from an early stage will also identify skill gaps and future requirements. Furthermore, this will increase the adoption of quantum technology by allowing businesses to strategise for its future implementation.

Our experts recommend a range of tax approved funding that allow businesses to incentivise their employees and upskill current workforce’s capabilities.

If you would like more information please contact:
 
Dr. Tariq Ahmad - Engineer
Herve Mottais - Director

To read our more detailed factsheet, please click here.

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