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The Ministry of Defence acquires the UK government's first quantum computer

The United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence (MoD) will work with British company Orca Computing to explore applications for quantum technology in defence.

Orca Computing aims to provide a new approach to quantum computing using proprietary Orca quantum memory technology and leveraging an industry-standard infrastructure.

Quantum computers use the quantum physics principles of superposition and entanglement to unlock a realm of computational capabilities not available to classical computers.

Orca uses its own patented quantum memory to store and retrieve single photons on demand. It enables high-speed ‘repeat-until-successful or release-when-needed’ operations. This helps to overcome the reliance on having an extremely large number of redundant components working in parallel.

However today’s quantum systems are predominantly used for testing and development purposes. To help researchers understand the potential of quantum computing and to develop algorithms for more complex applications in the future. 

In the original announcement on the BBC news, Professor Winfried Hensinger, head of the Sussex Centre for Quantum Technologies at University of Sussex, was quoted as saying the true potential of quantum computers will take time to fully materialise.

‘They can't actually solve any practical problems yet. They're enabling you to maybe gauge the possibilities of what working on a quantum computer would have if you can scale this machine to really large system sizes.’

But he adds the promise of quantum computing, and the MoD's exploration of it, is still significant. ‘Quantum computing can be disruptive in nearly any industry sector. You can imagine that within defence, there's a lot of problems where optimisation can play a huge and very important role.’

In a recent webcast on Scientific Computing World, Professor Hensinger discussed the scientific impact of quantum computing and how it might shape research in the coming years as the technology becomes more established.

This webcast is available for free for registered users here: On-Demand Webinar: The Scientific Impact of Quantum Computing | Scientific Computing World (


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