The UK and Canada launched a quantum technology collaboration, following an agreement to share this knowledge in 2017
Eight projects will be launched, under the funding and support of both UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). They launched a competition to find these projects, leading to a portion of the cash injection of £2 million from UKRI and C$4.4 million via NSERC.
They are expected to impact significantly on many areas, including healthcare, secure communications, defence, computing and financial services.
UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway commented: “We are only at the start of developing quantum technologies, but it is already clear that they offer us a world of opportunity across entire sectors like healthcare, communications and financial services.”
What is quantum physics?
Current electronics and communications rely on electrons. However, while electrons are extremely small and nimble, they are actually holding back how fast and small we can make electronics. Quantum physics, and technology, is the manipulation of the energy happening at this sub-atomic level to make the world more technologically advanced.
A lot of the groundwork to develop this technology has already been done by the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme, established in 2014 and extended in the 2018 Autumn Budget.
How can these new projects change the world?
One of the projects would create anatomically precise superconducting in films. This is an advanced manufacturing toolkit for quantum sensing and computing, created by the business minds at Oxford Instruments Nanotechnology Tools Ltd and the academics at Université de Sherbrooke. But in plain English, what could this technology really do? The systems that are being developed via this collaboration mean that microelectronic circuits, as intricate and tiny as they are, will be created en masse for widespread use. This could impact anything from how mobile phones work, to how card machines scan your money.
Roger McKinlay, Challenge Director for the Quantum Technologies Challenge at UKRI, said: “These are innovative, mature, well thought-through, projects born out of great ideas coming from very capable universities and companies. They will accelerate the development of quantum technologies to the benefit of both nations.”
Another project would enable next level protection for commercial and national communications networks in space. The UK-CAN quantum key distribution (QKD) technology developed in this project will fly onboard Canada’s Quantum Encryption and Science Satellite (QEYSSat), enabling the mission to be more far-reaching and link to ground stations on both sides of the Atlantic. The UK business lead is Craft Prospect Ltd, while the Canadian academics behind the tech are the University of Waterloo.
Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, government of Canada, said: “Quantum technologies have the potential to transform industry and society in Canada, the United Kingdom, and around the world.
“These ground-breaking collaborations between researchers in Canada and businesses in the UK will help further our knowledge of these transformative technologies.”
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