Quantum Computing Could Change Everything

Quantum Computing Could Change Everything

If you’ve been following any scientific news lately, you might’ve heard some buzz about how quantum computing is forecasted to change the world – or, at the very least, revolutionize all of our data and processing capabilities. Experts think it will have global impacts and possibly usher in a new era of human invention – very big picture stuff.

There’s so much potential that Congress passed the National Quantum Initiative Act last year to advance coordinated research efforts in quantum information science. As part of the act, legislators plan to invest $1.2 billion in quantum research over the next 10 years. As a result, Purdue University took the step of launching a new Quantum Science and Engineering Institute a few weeks ago to organize and incentivize its own research efforts, of which there are several throughout the university.

According to Purdue, quantum computing “has the potential to be a game-changer in everyday life. It may lead to an array of advanced technologies and products.”

With so much hype, we wanted to learn more about what quantum computing is and how it could change the future of business.

What is Quantum Computing?

Quantum computing comes from quantum mechanics, which is the physics of very, very small things. At the subatomic level, the particles that make up atoms have some truly weird and amazing behaviors. In a way, they can be both “there” and “not there” at the same time.

When it comes to the way computers work, everything we use today is digital. Everything you do on a computer is based in binary code. You might know this as ones and zeros.

In a traditional computer, a “bit” of information is either a one or a zero – on or off.  Each bit can only exist in one state at a time. However, a quantum bit, or “qubit,” can be both a one and a zero at the same time due to quantum phenomena.

How Will This Change Business?

What does all of this mean for the future of business? For starters, it means computing power is going to expand exponentially.

“A truly usable quantum computer will be able to process unimaginable amounts of data at exponentially faster rates than today, transfer and store information with advanced cryptography, and facilitate new discoveries and myriad other applications,” said Yong P. Chen, inaugural director of the new Quantum Science and Engineering Institute.

Other aspects of quantum mechanics could revolutionize the way we communicate. Quantum particles exhibit a weird behavior called entanglement that some scientists call “spooky action at a distance.”

Entanglement shows that particles can be linked together no matter the distance between them. If harnessed for technology, entanglement could bring advanced computers, communication systems, and sensors with unprecedented capabilities.

One could, in theory, transmit data instantaneously over any distance. Also, one could create “unhackable” communications.

What are Researchers Working On?

The new Quantum Science and Engineering Institute will help grow and support quantum information science and engineering research across campus. It will be headquartered in the Birck Nanotechnology Center, which also houses various research programs ranging from nano/quantum photonics to nanoelectronics and spintronics.

Numerous faculty members will be involved from various disciplines, primarily in the colleges of Science and Engineering. Purdue has many experts in the field and about 30 faculty members will be part of the new institute.

“The institute will work closely with other centers to support all the major Discovery Park strategic ‘impact’ themes – health, sustainability, and security,” said Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, vice president for Discovery Park at Purdue. “The institute will be able to effectively support, connect, and grow quantum related research over the whole Purdue campus, and coordinate across diverse disciplines and colleges.”

University researchers are also exploring new ways to partner with the private sector. Leaders of various tech giants such as IBM, Microsoft, Google, Intel, and numerous new startups are developing the technologies to build the quantum computers and systems of the future.

What Could You Do with All That Computing Power?

If your company had the capabilities that quantum computers may be able to produce one day, what would you be able to achieve? That’s the big question a lot of industry leaders are looking into today in anticipation of the breakthroughs to come.

Medical research could be accelerated, new transportation systems could be developed, online security could grow, weather reports could get more accurate, modeling and testing could improve manufacturing, communications could become boundless, and so much more. The possibilities are mind-blowing.

The world could be on the verge of major changes, perhaps even arising out of some of the research happening right here in the Hoosier state. Right now, we’ve all got a front-row seat for what could be the next chapter of technological history.