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QH Feature : The Rise and Rise of Chinese Quantum Tech

Global Quantum industry may be shaped by China

China named quantum informatics a key plank in its 13th Five-Year Plan and the Made in China 2025 plan — which launched China’s bid to dominate high-tech sectors. Chinese defense professionals speculate that “quantum hegemony” may determine the future of international politics.

While China has historically had challenges to catch up in science with the west, it’s the first country to achieve some important quantum milestones. These include the first quantum science satellite and a quantum network connecting Beijing and Shanghai. China is also building the world’s largest quantum laboratory.

The Chinese quantum effort is strongly oriented towards military applications. Once operationalized, quantum technologies will also have transformative implications for China’s national security and economy.

Tremendous progress in the field of quantum computing.

While China does not have facilities equivalent to the U.S. laboratories researching and testing quantum computers but they aim to get there. The Chinese plan is to have three different labs and they will all be devoted to quantum information science.

US tech giant Google announced a breakthrough in October 2019 – using the company’s state-of-the-art quantum computer, called Sycamore, Google has claimed “quantum supremacy” over the most powerful supercomputers in the world. It is enabled by a 53-qubit superconductivity system with a 99.4 percent fidelity.

Chinese quantum computing researchers recently disclosed that a 60-qubit superconductivity quantum computing system with 99.5 percent fidelity could be achieved this year, and in 10 years, the system could evolve into a million-qubit level with a 99.8 percent fidelity. Quantum Hermit did a feature story on this here http://quantumhermit.com/chinese-team-lead-by-pan-jianwei-is-expected-to-realize-a-60-bit-quantum-computer-this-year/

In 10 years or less, quantum computers can be used to solve real problems in the field of cryptology, rather than being used only to demonstrate their computing capabilities, which is the case for current models. When the number of qubit reaches 100, and the computing system’s fidelity reaches over 99 percent, it can dwarf classical computers and will become a prefferd method of solving NP Hard problems.

New milestone in space-based quantum communications

In the latest of a series of technological firsts attributed to the Micius Project, Chinese scientists have succeeded in establishing a secure link between two ground stations, separated by over 1,100km.

In a new paper published in June 2020 in Nature, project leader Jian-Wei Pan (Featured in QuantumHermit 108 list of Key Influencers) of the University of Science and Technology of China demonstrates how entanglement-based quantum key distribution is used to secure a quantum communications network.

By eschewing the use of the satellite as a communications relay and simply using it for simultaneous transmission of keys, the team eliminated the need for the satellite to “know” anything, removing a point of potential weakness within the key exchange process.

Leading the Way In Quantum Cryptography

China’s quantum network that aims to connect vast distances with a satellite network and encrypts signals over large distances. The success of the Chinese network lies in the satellite Micius. This is a powerful photon relay and detector. It used fine lasers and detectors to send out quantum information and to receive it at incredible speeds. This is no doubt the biggest leap in quantum cybersecurity in the past decade.

Quantum Computing – China Vs The Global Market

  • The global quantum-computing market is estimated to reach $10 Billion by 2025 and such technology could be a game changer in many industries.
  • In addition to fifth-generation and artificial intelligence, quantum computing is another area of technological competition between countries, and one in which the U.S. and China are competing to be the world’s leader.
  • The quantum computing market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, and South America.
  • North America and Europe are expected to lead due to the growing government investment in the field of quantum computing.
  • The market in Asia Pacific is expected to expand at a significant pace due to the increasing research and development activities across emerging economies such as China, India, and Japan.

Quantum Computing – China Vs The Asia-Pacific Market

  • According to the “Quantum Computing Market & Technologies. Asia-Pacific – 2018-2024” report, the regional Quantum Computing market will grow at a CAGR of 24.5% throughout 2018-2024.
  • Revenues from quantum computing hardware sold in the Asia-Pacific region will be about $40 million in 2020 but will take off to reach about $250 million in 2025.
  • By the end of 2029, the Asia-Pacific market for quantum computer hardware will be quite substantial – over $800 million.
  • Most of these revenues will come from two countries – Japan and China.
  • By 2025, the value of quantum computing hardware sold to Chinese customers will reach the order of hundres of million USD a month.

China’s Efforts And Its Future In Quantum Computing

Quantum research is not a short-term effort by China. They are in it for the long-haul. At its current rate of funding, China will spend more on R&D by 2030 than any other country in Europe or Asia.

China understands the strategic importance of quantum technology to both its economy and its military. Over the past two years, China has aggressively stepped up its pace of quantum research.

In 2016, President Xi Jinping established a national strategy for China to become technologically self-reliant. One of China’s main goals is to surpass the United States and to become the global high-tech leader, with a mandate for Quantum leadership.

President Xi funded a multi-billion-dollar quantum computing mega-project with the expectation of achieving significant quantum breakthroughs by 2030. He also committed billions to establish a Chinese National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences. This center may eventually become a global hub for quantum research and a magnet for future quantum research talent.

A few recent Chinese quantum developments are

  • Long-distance communication via entanglement: China created a record-breaking communications link using entangled particles between satellites and an earth station.
  • Quantum radar: A Chinese company, Electronic Technology Group Corporation, claims it has developed quantum radar. Like most quantum applications, quantum radar is still experimental
  • Submarine Detection: Scientists at the Chinese National Academy of Science announced the development of a quantum submarine detector based on an array of sensors known as SQUIDs (Superconducting Quantum Interference Device). SQUIDs are very sensitive. They can monitor the brainwaves of a mouse or detect electron emissions from deep space hydrogen molecules. A fully functional SQUID array is estimated to have the ability to detect a submarine five or six kilometers away.

 

THE MEN TURNING CHINA INTO A QUANTUM SUPERPOWER

 

Jian-Wei pan – China’s ‘Father of Quantum’

Jian-Wei Pan, a professor at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), sometimes referred to as “China’s Caltech,” 48-year-old Pan has produced a series of breakthroughs that have led him to scientific stardom in the country. His work has won praise from President Xi Jinping, and he is often referred to in local media as “the father of quantum.”

Quantum communications and computing are the scientific “megaprojects” that China’s government needs to see breakthroughs by 2030. Pan, who became the youngest member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2011, is central to this initiative. Jian-Wei Pan is the man behind the Micius satellite achievement.

Pan’s ambitions include a plan to create a globe-spanning constellation of satellites that constitute a super-secure quantum internet. Helping China catch up with and perhaps overtake other countries in building powerful quantum computers is also on his checklist. Pan foresees a day when data centers on different continents will be connected via the quantum satellites he’s planning.

 

Zhu Xiaobo – Superconducting Multi-Qubits Work Leader

Google unveiled a 72 qubit quantum processor last year, surpassing a 50-qubit computer previously revealed by IBM. A 12-qubit processor has been documented by Chinese researchers so far, using superconducting technology similar to Google and IBM. At the Shanghai meeting, the leader of that group, USTC professor Zhu Xiaobo, introduced the results of his team, flashing out an image of their prototype on the screen.

“Weare operating at 24 qubits now,” Zhu said. Zhu revealed that his team is close to achieving a 60-qubit quantum computer, seeking to catch up with and even surpass Google, referring to the point where a quantum computer can do a calculation that current computers can’t. While widely predicted, the benchmark would only mark the beginning of advancements in the field, scientists say.

Lu Chaoyang – The Rising Quantum SuperStar

Lu Chaoyang, a young physicist who received his PhD at the University of Cambridge, also stepped into the lectern to provide an update on his team’s approach to quantum computing that depends on photons, which he called “fast-flying qubits.”

Despite the fact that the idea for a quantum computer first emerged 40 years ago, there is still a long way to go. Barry Sanders, a Canadian physicist, in quantum experiments with China, calls Lu Chaoyang a “rising superstar.”

 

Chinese Quantum Market – Key Players

QuantumCTek Co.

The first quantum technology co to list as an initial public offering in China will likely be the quantum communication firm, QuantumCTek. Recently Shanghai’s Star Market, the Shanghai Stock Exchange approved the public listing of QuantumCTek.

Founded in 2009, QuantumCTek is a Chinese initiative out of Heifei City, and is a spin-out from a quantum physics research group at the Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Science (HFNL) and University of Science and Technology of China (USTC). Specializing in network security products that use quantum technology as its foundation, the startup designs and produces modern communication systems for government operations and the financial sector.

QuantumCTek planned to raise CNY304 million, or about $43.3 million, by issuing 20 million shares, the Hefei-based developer of quantum information products said in its prospectus. More than four-fifths of that will be used for a network equipment project and the rest to build a research & development center.

QuantumCTek posted CNY295.6 million revenue and CNY32.4 million in net profit in the first three quarters of 2020. QuantumCTek soared nearly tenfold on its trading debut. The company closed 924% above its 36.18 yuan ($5.18) issue price on China’s Star board.

Alibaba Group

In 2017, the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba disclosed its plan on US$ 15 billion investment in R&D projects. This investment is part of the company’s DAMO (Discovery, Adventure, Momentum, and Outlook) Academy, and it included the opening of new labs, to be located in different places such as Singapore, Moscow, Seattle, China, and California.

A partnership between the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Alibaba Group’s cloud computing subsidiary created the Alibaba Quantum Computing Laboratory. The lab takes advantage of Alibaba’s skill set in cloud computing and algorithms while utilizing the academy’s expertise in quantum artificial intelligence (AI) and QC.

Currently, Alibaba Quantum Computing Laboratory is researching quantum theory, with the idea of creating innovative security solutions within multiple industries like data collection and e-commerce.

Baidu Research

Up and running since 2018 with offices in Silicon Valley, Seattle and Beijing, Baidu’s QC research wing is called the Institute of Quantum Computing. The institute’s three areas of focus are: (1) Quantum AI (2) Quantum Architecture (3) Quantum Algorithms.

Baidu is planning to develop the institute to a world-class level and will gradually apply quantum computing in baidu’s future businesses within five years. With enough liquidity, a quality team and ambition in the space, Baidu’s Institute of Quantum Computing is on the right path to breaking new ground in QC.

Huawei

Huawei is one of the companies that focus on Quantum technologies. As with other companies it has moved into building a Quantum cloud offering. That quantum cloud is named the Huawei HiQ platform. The company doesn’t involve itself in creating physical quantum hardware but it claims full-amplitude circuit simulator on the cloud of up to 42 qubits, with software performance 5 – 10 times higher than open-source alternatives.

ZTE

ZTE Corporation, a Chinese technology company is a major international provider of telecommunications, enterprise and consumer technology solutions for the Mobile Internet and in 2018 it announced the launch of the industry’s first quantum encryption transport solution based on an optical transport network (OTN). This solution successfully achieves shared-fibre transmission of quantum paths and traditional paths. Basically it is using quantum encryption in its network.

China is moving rapidly into a quantum enabled future and we will see a lot of breakthroughs and products both in QKD’s and Quantum Information Science from the Mainland.

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