Quantum technologies: the opportunities and challenges ahead
“Quantum technologies are both very exciting and very challenging, but if you’re developing technology for technology’s sake without a strong view of the market, there’s a big chance that you will have to start from the beginning once you find who your customer really is.”
Quantum Technologies came to the UK in 2013 when a number of pioneering academic, government and industrial figures launched the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme (NQTP). Five years later, the industrial race is on to deliver high-performance, commercially viable quantum products.
At Teledyne, we believe that quantum isn’t just about computing. Within time-scales measured in a few years rather than decades, Teledyne are developing quantum sensing devices that will provide solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges, such as:
- Earth monitoring- how do we monitor remotely the effects of climate change on the Earth’s sub-surface resources, such as water resources and ocean currents? Visible imaging is fine, but it only tells us what is on the surface.
- Construction- how do we detect and mapping unknown underground obstacles such that we can continue to reduce risk and delay in the world’s most complex building and infrastructure projects?
- Cyber security- how do we protect our most secret digital assets from future brute force cyber attacks?
- Navigation, position and timing- how do we live in a world without GPS (which can be easily blocked or spoofed?)
Through our industrialisation of quantum sensor technologies, we believe Teledyne’s quantum gravity sensors, quantum clocks and quantum key distribution systems are the answer to these problems.
Quantum gravity sensors will allow people to detect and locate buried objects in ways that are not detectable with current technologies. This might be detecting, for example, a hidden mine shaft, sink hole or archaeology that would come as a surprise, and source of delay, to a large construction project. Quantum gravity sensors may also provide a new method through which to observe the Earth from space, allowing us to monitor sub-surface resources such as water, oil and minerals. Quantum key distribution will allow customers unprecedented security over their data when in transit and quantum clocks and navigation units will allow users to navigate in places that GPS is denied, such as underwater, underground or inside.
However, before we can rush out and go and buy these new quantum devices, a number of technical, commercial and application challenges need to be overcome. For example, to be commercially viable, quantum solutions must compete with what is already on the market on metrics which normally include price. Secondly, quantum devices are typically built from cutting-edge components, many of which cannot be bought off the shelf right now.
To answer these questions, Teledyne is attracting a broader range of expertise to the field, including application specialists, systems engineers, supply chain managers, business development and market analysists.
Through this approach, Teledyne is moving quantum from scientific experiments and concepts through to into demonstrators and real products. Our strategy is to focus on creating platform technologies that are customer-focused and contribute to the local and national government and economy, using open innovation and working with partners such as RSK, the National Physical Laboratory and the University of Birmingham. We are based in Chelmsford in Essex, and are working with the local businesses and local council to bring the quantum revolution to Essex and the East of England, making it the place to go to design, manufacture and apply quantum technologies.
Dr Richard Murray is business development manager with a PhD in quantum physics. Richard currently works for Teledyne Technologies: a $2.9Bn global Engineering conglomerate working on industrialising quantum technologies, working to transition quantum from research into a new business unit. He is also the deputy project lead for the £8.5m Innovate UK funded project 'Gravity Pioneer'.
If you would like to find out more about techUK's #QuantumFuture week, jump to our landing page now or get in touch with Tom.Henderson@techUK.org or Sue.Daley@techUK.org today!