Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

UPSC Civils Daily Mains Question 31st March 2020

What is Quantum Technology? Discuss the various applications and Challenges Associated with the Technology.

Conventional computers process information in ‘bits’ or 1s and 0s, following classical physics under which our computers can process a ‘1’ or a ‘0’ at a time. Quantum computers compute in ‘qubits’ (or quantum bits). They exploit the properties of quantum mechanics, the science that governs how matter behaves on the atomic scale.

In this scheme of things, processors can be a 1 and a 0 simultaneously, a state called quantum superposition. Because of quantum superposition, a quantum computer — if it works to plan — can mimic several classical computers working in parallel.

Applications of Quantum Technology

Besides computing, exploring the quantum world promises other dramatic applications.

  1. Secure Communication: China recently demonstrated secure quantum communication links between terrestrial stations and satellites.This area is significant to satellites, military and cyber security among others as it promises unimaginably fast computing and safe, unhackable satellite communication to its users.
  2. Research: It can help in solving some of the fundamental questions in physics related to gravity, black hole etc. Similarly, the quantum initiative could give a big boost to the Genome India project, a collaborative effort of 20 institutions to enable new efficiencies in life sciences, agriculture and medicine.
  3. Disaster Management: Tsunamis, drought, earthquakes and floods may become more predictable with quantum applications. The collection of data regarding climate change can be streamlined in a better way through quantum technology. This in turn will have a profound impact on agriculture, food technology chains and the limiting of farmland wastage.
  4. Pharmaceutical: India’s interest in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry is huge. Quantum computing could reduce the time frame of the discovery of new molecules and related processes to a few days from the present 10-year slog that scientists put in.

For instance, tracking protein behaviour or even modelling new proteins with the help of quantum computers could be made easier and faster.Tackling chronic diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart ailments is a big possibility of the technology.

Augmenting Industrial revolution 4.0: Quantum computing is an integral part of Industrial revolution 4.0. Success in it will help in Strategic initiatives aimed at leveraging other Industrial revolution 4.0 technologies like the Internet-of-Things, machine learning, robotics, and artificial intelligence across sectors will further help in laying the foundation of the Knowledge economy.

Associated Challenges

  1. The challenge lies in harnessing the properties of quantum superposition in a highly controlled manner. The qubits tend to be very fragile and lose their “quantumness” if not controlled properly. Also, a careful choice of materials, design and engineering is required to get them to work.
  2. On the theoretical front lies the challenge of creating the algorithms and applications for quantum computers. These projects will also place new demands on classical control hardware as well as software platforms.
  3. Further, Information technology-based security infrastructure would never be the same once quantum systems become a reality, given the ultra fast speed of computing power.
  4. Plagued by inadequate resources
  5. Low skills and man power with respect to Quantum technology
  6. Delay in funding.

Government needs to partner institutions and the scientific community to work out details of the mission and roll it out quickly. Private funding, both via industry and philanthropy, can play an outsized role even with much smaller amounts.

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