Quantum Tech

Quantum mechanics: Six key trends for 2023 and beyond

26th January 2023
Harry Fowle

Quantum mechanics offers an entirely new way of processing information. It has the potential to be faster and more resource-efficient than any other solution, which could transform our capabilities in sectors such as cybersecurity, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing.

However, as it stands, quantum mechanics is still in its infancy. We are fundamentally limited by the stability and accuracy of existing systems. To take quantum computing from its current state and make it fit for purpose in the mainstream, there is a need to reduce errors and add the ability to scale.

If such improvements can be made, quantum will be able to push beyond the boundaries of classical physics and offer solutions to calculations that have previously been deemed impossible.

Dr Eric Holland, Director of Quantum Engineering Solutions, Keysight Technologies has put together his top trends:
  • Quantum poised to accelerate complex design processes: In the airline industry, it is not uncommon for companies to spend 25 years designing a new polymer that will make aircraft more fuel efficient and resistant to extreme temperatures. Quantum will significantly accelerate this and other material science design timelines. Rather than spending their entire career on one design cycle, employees will be able to complete the process in a matter of years. 
  • Taking a quantum leap in the climate change battle: Once quantum demonstrates advantage, it will increasingly be channeled to help fight climate change. For example, improving decision-making through complex modeling and predictions and helping ensure compliance with emission standards. 
  • Reducing the impact of hurricanes and weather events: Before the end of the next decade, quantum will enable meteorologists to better predict the trajectory of hurricanes, winter storms, and other weather events. This will allow communities to better plan and remove any element of guesstimates in determining whether to mandate evacuations or shelter in place. As a result, the loss of life associated with hurricanes and other natural weather-driven disasters will be reduced. 
  • Quantum navigation will illuminate remote areas: Quantum technology can facilitate navigation in remote areas with minimal satellite coverage, but cost is currently a barrier to adoption. This will begin to change as quantum becomes more prevalent and affordable. I believe that we will see emergency vehicles equipped with quantum sensors within the next decade, with consumer vehicles eventually following suit.   
  • Europe, hot on US’ heels with quantum adoption: The US is currently leading the quantum computing industry, but by the end of the decade, Europe will reach parity. Increasing privacy regulations is one major driver behind Europe's growth, as having quantum computing capabilities in the region will make it significantly easier to comply with these mandates.

In addition, European quantum companies have seen the largest venture rounds and a plethora of universities throughout the continent provide a talent pipeline that can be tapped to fuel new quantum opportunities and use cases. As a result, the US quantum industry will feel increasing pressure to maintain its competitive advantage. 

Building the foundation for quantum

After decades-long hype around quantum computing and quantum systems, the industry will start to realise its potential for creating new opportunities in fields spanning cybersecurity, materials creation, financial analysis, and military receivers. 

Proactive companies will start investing in quantum, fostering quantum talent within the next generation of workers through university partnerships, hackathons, and other projects. This will create an ancillary boost to DEI initiatives resulting in much-needed diversity in the tech workforce.

Recent research revealed 74% of companies believe they will fall behind if they fail to adopt quantum. As a result, organisations will begin to shift their thinking from that of quantum being a futuristic technology and begin addressing key challenges, including financial resources and operations, and developing real enterprise applications of quantum by 2026, if not sooner.  

When can we expect to see Quantum enter the mainstream?

There is still much to be learned about quantum mechanics and the power it harnesses. However, it’s clear the opportunities it presents in fields such as research and industry. It’s not unreasonable to think that quantum computing could be in mainstream use within the next ten years, though for this to happen there needs to be significant innovation in hardware and software development.

What is certain is the multitude of possibilities quantum mechanics offers and it goes beyond the trends we’ve discussed in this article. The power of quantum has the potential to transform everything from how pharmaceutical companies develop drugs for serious illness to how businesses protect themselves from cybersecurity threats. It may be in its early years now, but quantum is coming sooner than we think.

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