The race is on to get Norway ready for the next big technology revolution – quantum computers, and the first Norwegian centre for quantum technology is being rolled out.
The global race to develop quantum computers is on. Researchers believe that during the next five years, these machines will be able to solve complex computational problems that are beyond the capabilities of our traditional computers. Major players such as IBM, Google, Intel and Honeywell are in the hunt, and the world is preparing itself for what is widely regarded as the next great technological revolution.
“There is currently almost no research activity in this field in Norway”, says researcher Franz Fuchs, who works with mathematics and cybernetics at SINTEF. ”We are years behind the rest of the world, so the challenge is now to get up to date as soon as possible”, he says.
Facts about quantum technology
- Quantum technology has its roots in quantum mechanics and physics, and is all about exploiting the physical properties of atoms and subatomic particles. The information handled by a standard computer is built up of bits (binary information units) that carry values of 0 (for no current/off) or 1 (for current/on).
- A quantum computer, operates with quantum bits (qubits) which can be in a superposition of the states 0 and 1, as well as be entangled with each other. These properties enable quantum computers to perform certain calculations much faster than classical computers.
- Quantum computers will not replace our traditional computers, but will provide a very important addition to them.
- Researchers believe that initially, quantum technology will be of greatest benefit to chemical industry and oil and gas sectors, in distribution and logistics, financial services, the health sector, biosciences and manufacturing.
Source: Store norske leksikon (online encyclopaedia)/SINTEF
Fuchs and his research colleagues at SINTEF, NTNU, and the University of Oslo want to make Norway “quantum-ready”, and have taken the matter into their own hands by together establishing the Norwegian Quantum Computing Centre. In addition to a Board comprising four persons, a total of 13 research scientists from the three institutions are linked to the centre headed by Fuchs.
The initiative has been awarded so-called “Gemini Centre” status. This means that the various research teams will be tasked to build an effective and visible centre of expertise in the field of quantum technology, and to establish networks with world-leading researchers and industry partners.
Research funding is key
“It is important to start building up our expertise right now, and not in five years’ time,” says Morten Dalsmo, Executive Vice President at SINTEF Digital. “This is why we are rolling out this centre together with our research partners. When the technology is in place, Norwegian businesses must be ready so that we do not lose out to the competition. This makes it essential that research funding is allocated to the development of quantum technology, and that educational opportunities are created in this field so that we can equip ourselves for the future,” he says.
Germany has already dedicated more than 2.6 billion Euro for the future development of quantum technology, and globally the figure is around 180 billion Euro. Finland has thrown its hat into the ring and Sweden has already started developing a quantum computer. In Norway, however, only very few people have paid attention to quantum technology. The aim of the new Norwegian centre is not to build its own quantum computer, but to develop software that will put Norway in a position to apply the technology when the machines are fully developed.
“We will be looking into potential applications,” says Fuchs. “We will evaluate problem structures and develop algorithms that will facilitate solutions with improved performance, but with a minimum of resources. The idea is to create something that is both valuable to industry and relevant to society,” he says. Several Norwegian companies have signalled their interest in the centre, which they want to be a hub for research and state-of-the-art development in quantum technology. The centre is now applying for research funding and has major ambitions in the field of software development for quantum computers.
“Our goal is to be a future world leader”, says Fuchs.