Quantum Technology on a Mission Mode
The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has recently approved the National Quantum Mission (NQM) at a total cost of Rs.6003.65 crore from 2023-24 to 2030-31, aiming to seed, nurture and scale up scientific and industrial R&D and create a vibrant & innovative ecosystem in Quantum Technology (QT).
This will accelerate QT-led economic growth, nurture the ecosystem in the country and make India one of the leading nations in the development of Quantum Technologies & Applications (QTA).
The new mission targets developing intermediate-scale quantum computers with 50-1000 physical qubits in 8 years in various platforms like superconducting and photonic technology. Satellite-based secure quantum communications between ground stations over a range of 2000 kilometres within India, long-distance secure quantum communications with other countries, inter-city quantum key distribution over 2000 km as well as multi-node Quantum network with quantum memories are also some of the deliverables of the Mission.
The mission will help develop magnetometers with high sensitivity in atomic systems and Atomic Clocks for precision timing, communications, and navigation. It will also support design and synthesis of quantum materials such as superconductors, novel semiconductor structures, and topological materials for the fabrication of quantum devices. Single photon sources/detectors, and entangled photon sources will also be developed for quantum communication, sensing, and metrological applications.
Mission Implementation includes setting up four Thematic Hubs (T-Hubs) in top academic and National R&D institutes in the domains – Quantum Computing, Quantum Communication, Quantum Sensing & Metrology, and Quantum Materials & Devices. The hubs will focus on the generation of new knowledge through basic and applied research as well as promote R&D in areas that are mandated to them.
NQM can take the Technology Development ecosystem in the country to a globally competitive level. The Mission would greatly benefit various sectors, including communication, health, financial, energy with applications in drug design, space, banking, security etc. The Mission will also provide a huge boost to National priorities like Digital India, Make in India, Skill India and Stand-up India, Start-up India, Self-reliant India and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Quantum Technology is based on the principles of Quantum mechanics developed in the early 20th century to describe nature at the scale of atoms and elementary particles. Using quantum superposition, a set of unbreakable codes or super-speedy information processing, quantum computers are able to mimic several classical computers working in parallel.
Quantum technology is manifested through applications in secure communication, disaster management through better prediction, computing, simulation, chemistry, healthcare, cryptography, imaging among others. Scientists have expanded quantum theory to understand biological phenomena such as smell, consciousness, enzyme catalysis, photosynthesis, avian navigation like that of the Robin, origin of life and effects on coronavirus.
Some stalwart quantum Indians include Professor Satyendra Nath Bose, Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman and Professor Meghnad Saha. India is currently at the forefront of tapping the second quantum revolution through massive investments in the field.
Four domains of quantum technologies are:
I. Quantum communication
II. Quantum simulation
III. Quantum computation
IV. Quantum sensing and metrology
Building upon Quantum capabilities is one of the most remunerative areas of technological development. Quantum computing has a wide spectrum of applicability ranging from the everyday functioning of companies to national security.