Quantum computing has the potential to transform a huge number of industries. The race to build quantum technology is on as you are reading this. All business and technology leaders should start looking into the impact that quantum computing can bring to their industry. Experts estimate that the first commercial applications will appear in 2-5 years. In 5-10 years we can build more and more complex applications. By that time, the golden opportunity to be among the first ones will be gone. In this blog post, I’ll give an overview of where the quantum computing industry is today and where it may be going to.
Both public and private sectors are currently investing at a rapidly accelerating pace in quantum computing. In the public sector, China is investing more than $10B dollars. This has already produced excellent results. Also, Germany with €2B, the U.S. with $1.2B, and India with over $1B are all placing big bets on the industry.
Not to be outdone, private sector investments are also growing like weeds. IBM, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are among the big players in the field. In fact, the quantum computing investments in the private sector during 2021 have already surpassed the combined sum of the past three years. We have even seen a quantum IPO with IonQ.
There are already dozens of working quantum computers around the world. In fact, Google accomplished quantum supremacy in 2019. This means that a quantum computer can solve a problem that is practically impossible to solve using classical computers. Meaning that it would take thousands or even millions of years to solve. In 2020, also China stated that they achieved quantum supremacy.
Having said that, we are still in the very early days of quantum computing. It’s very similar to where the first transistor-based computers were in the 1960s. Currently, two big limiting factors for commercial use are related to error correction and low-temperature requirements.
Error correction means that the present quantum computers are prone to errors in their calculations. Quantum computer companies are working hard to develop better hardware and algorithms to overcome this.
Temperature requirements are a problem as many quantum computers are built on superconductor technologies. This means that they require extremely cold temperatures to operate. If they could run at room temperature, many commercial data centers could add quantum CPUs to their premises. The solution to this can be either to deliver the quantum computers together with sufficient cooling systems or to adopt some other technology such as photonic quantum computing. Quantum companies are developing both of these solutions.
Once we solve these problems, we will likely see a huge leap of progress in quantum computer performance.
It’s quite certain that quantum computers will not replace classical CPUs. Instead, we will see a combination of quantum and classical computers. Similar to today’s GPUs, there might be QPUs (Quantum Processing Units) that we would use to solve specific problems. One could access these QPUs as one can today access CPUs and GPUs via the cloud. The big cloud companies are already building the infrastructure for this. For example, Amazon has AWS Braket and Microsoft has Azure Quantum.
The applications for quantum computing are countless. There are huge benefits in quantum computers’ ability to efficiently simulate atoms, molecules, and subatomic particles. For example, in drug discovery, there is a big demand to be able to simulate the behavior of different proteins. Battery development is another domain where simulating the interaction between chemical molecules can lead to huge benefits.
We at Quanscient are focusing on FEM (Finite Element Method) -based simulations. Our specialties are computational electromagnetics, fluid dynamics, and mechanical simulations. Basically, these boil down to solving partial differential equations. This happens to be where quantum computers shine. Some examples of what we can achieve with quantum algorithms are:
We aim to produce extremely accurate simulations of complex system-on-chips and antennas. This would be a revolution in their design processes. Companies would get their products to the market way faster than currently possible. The speed-up would be created by not having to build as many prototypes and hardware iterations. In fluid dynamics, we could accurately simulate the aerodynamics of an entire airplane and its turbulence models. With classical simulations, we can only do this, for example, for a single spoiler. Testing in wind tunnels is very expensive and slow. If we combine the quantum algorithms to next-to-limitless scalability of the cloud, we will be able to get the benefit of running our code on a computer that is best suited to run it. And the customer would not need any special hardware. They could take advantage of quantum algorithms using their browser. The science for quantum advantage in these kinds of simulations is already there. We just need to focus on algorithm development and wait a couple of years for quantum computers to be more mature. And these examples are just scratching the surface on what kind of applications there are. In addition to these, quantum computing will make its mark in finance, cryptography, traffic optimization, AI, weather forecasting, and climate change just to name a few.
I encourage you to start looking into the potential applications of quantum computing in your industry. If you are into computational electromagnetics, fluid dynamics, or mechanics simulations, get in touch with us, and let’s see what we could do together!