In the age of information, communication security is of vital importance for businesses, consumers, and governments. To answer this need, secure quantum encryption, which is theoretically immune to attacks, has recently become commercially available. Quantum communication is built on a set of disruptive concepts and technologies that harness the power of quantum mechanics. As a game-changing technology, it requires a new mix of competencies, from telecommunication engineering to theoretical physics. First applications have already found their way into niche markets, and many research labs are laying the theoretical and practical groundwork for large-scale quantum networks.
In quantum mechanics, two particles can share the same quantum state; this so called entangled state is very delicate, meaning it is extremely sensitive to its environment. This makes entangled quantum particles an ideal technology for ultra-sensitive devices. As a result of steady progress in material quality and control, cost reduction and the miniaturization of components, these devices are now ready to be carried over into numerous commercial applications. Examples of commercial applications include biosensors, high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging, brain imaging, as well as ultra-sensitive accelerometer and gyrometer components.
Building a quantum computer is the most ambitious and far-reaching project in the field of quantum technologies. Based on quantum bits that can be 0 and 1 at the same time, a quantum computer acts as a massive parallel device capable of an exponentially large number of simultaneous computations. Taking advantage of this power, quantum computers promise to solve problems that even the most powerful classical supercomputers will never be able solve. Advances in quantum computer design, fault-tolerant algorithms, and new fabrication technologies are now transforming this once lofty dream of quantum computing, into a realistic program poised to surpass classical computation. Early quantum computers are already commercially available, such as the fully programmable quantum computer developed by IBM, or the superconducting quantum annealer built by D-Wave. In this environment, Intel, Google, and Microsoft are investing heavily to develop a quantum computer with their own internal design.
Even the most powerful supercomputers fall short when it comes to predicting a chemical reaction or describing a material's electrical properties. By contrast, quantum simulators are tailor-made machines to solve exactly these problems. They potentially hold the key to new drugs and room temperature superconductors. Because quantum simulators are a specialized, simpler version of the general-purpose quantum computer, they do not require complete control of each individual component, making them easier to build. Excitingly, prototypes of quantum simulators are already up and running and exceeding the ability of the fastest classical computers. Several competing platforms for quantum simulators are currently under development, including ultracold atoms in optical lattices, trapped ions, and arrays of superconducting qubits and quantum dots.