Report highlights growth in quantum research

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Industries should prepare now for potential disruption caused by quantum computing, according to a new report.

The document, published by Elsevier, tracks emerging trends in quantum computing, based on research and analysis conducted in the abstract and citation database Scopus.

The report discusses how quantum computing has dominated headlines in recent years — from Google’s report that its 53-qubit quantum computer ‘Sycamore’ had achieved quantum supremacy, to multibillion-dollar initiatives around the world to develop quantum technology. Quantum computing and broader quantum technologies have the potential to impact everything from cybersecurity to weather forecasting to drug development once the technology comes into fruition, and is likely to leave companies not exploring it way behind.

Dr Anders Karlsson, vice president of global strategic networks at Elsevier commented: 'Quantum computing and, more generally, quantum technologies are high-risk, high-reward research. It is increasingly seen as of strategic national importance with national investments by government in the US, the European Union, China and Japan to mention a few, as well as from collaborative industry initiatives like the Pistoia Alliance Community of Interest. Early use cases may be seen in the near term in areas like optimisation, financial modelling and drug development. If, or when, applications truly take off it will be much harder for firms who didn’t ‘get in on the ground’ to understand the technology or use cases to catch up,’ commented 

Scopus is Elsevier’s abstract and citation database. The software combines a curated abstract and citation database with enriched data and linked scholarly content. Research using the platform found that, since 1994, there has been a steady increase in quantum computing research, resulting in over 48,000 publications; from 2015 onward there has been a much steeper rate of publication.

The report also found that the 10 institutions with the highest publication output are located in China, France, Canada, the US, the UK and Singapore. The Chinese Academy of Sciences shows particularly high productivity. The majority of author affiliations are academic and governmental research institutes. Whereas, private sector enterprises, including Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, IBM Thomas Watson Research Center, Google and Microsoft Research, appear further down the list.

‘Much of modern encryption is based on the idea that it is very difficult to factor an integer that is the product of two large primes. If it becomes easy to do that task, for instance via Shor’s algorithm on a large-scale quantum computer, then the basis of parts of modern encryption is at risk. Generally, quantum computing and quantum technologies for simulation, sensing and communication have a disruptive potential – understanding how and when this technology may be used is increasingly becoming crucial,’ commented Karlsson who previously served as professor of quantum photonics at the Royal Institute of Technology, KTH in Sweden for 10 years.