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Quantum technology, the new battlefield between the United States and China

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It is said that the science of quantum information is such a powerful field that it will transform the world.

The news appears only in some specialized media.

The US National Science and Technology Council published in September last year a new strategy for the development of quantum information science (CIC).

The 15-page report recommends the government's goals for Donald Trump should strive to develop and strengthen their capacity in the CIC.

To discuss the strategies presented, academics, government officials and representatives of major technology and financial companies in the country, including Alphavet, IBM, JP Morgan Chase, Lockheed Martin, Honeywell and Northrop Grumman, were invited to the White House.

An investment of $ 249 million has also been announced to implement 118 projects related to this research area.

On the other side of the world, in China something like this is happening too,

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China has devoted a huge amount of money to research on computational and quantum communications.

The Beijing government is building a new one National Laboratory of Quantum Information Sciences in Hefei, in the province of Anhui, with a cost of $ 10,000 million, which they hope to be found in 2020.

This after the launch two years ago of what was described as the first communication satellite for quantum communication.

And the statement of last year's creation of a "inhalation" communications network in Jinnan, which will be available to only 200 users: military, state and private employees.

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The fact that the two economic giants of the world compete in the development of the CIC demonstrates the importance of this area, which is alleged to be It is so powerful that it will transform the world,

What is CIC?

What promises quantum technologies is a revolution in the way information is handled, as explained to BBC Mundo, Alejandro Poiss Kerstjuen, a researcher at the Institute of Photonics Sciences in Barcelona and Quantum Information Group Theory.

"All the information is encoded in a binary system – in zeros and such – but around the 1960s it was discovered that the place where this information is stored can change the difference in what can be done with it," he explains .

"I mean, I can write classical information on a computer chip – as we do now – but we can also store those zeros and those in other smaller systems, in individual atoms or in small molecules".

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All information is encoded in a binary system – in zeros and such – but the location where this information is stored can change the difference in what can be done with this information.

"The behavior of these atoms and these molecules because they are so small is dictated by other rules, and those rules that dictate the behavior of atoms and molecules are the rules of the quantum world, of quantum theory," the scientist says.

Thus, what quantum information it is trying to do is use these new quantum properties that appear in very small systems to improve the tasks of processing and transmitting information, among others.

What the CEC promises is the revolution in the way we handle information that opens up new opportunities for thousands of applications in areas ranging from advances in health and science, drug production, and industrial production to new defense systems.

Quantum technology, experts say, "can change everything."

That is why the most powerful nations in the world compete to take the lead in the CIC.

Quantum satellite

Judging by the progress made so far in the field of quantum technology, we can say that China is at the forefront.

In 2016, Beijing announced it had launched its first quantum communication satellite, and a year later it said it had managed to use this satellite to establish encrypted communications impossible to decipher through the eyes of others.

"There were two experiments: the first achieved quantum communication with the satellite from the ground and then, using this satellite, communications were made between two points on the ground with a quantum-encrypted signal in which the satellite made a repeater between these two points on the ground," Alejandro explains Poiss.

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China said it had used its quantum companion to establish encrypted communications that could not be cleared from the eyes of others.

This ability to understand whether information has been captured or reached its destination can not be obtained with the classical technologies or information transfer methods we are currently using.

And although the Chinese experiments were proof of the concept, this country was able to prove that this could happen.

"It is true that it has been proven that they can be done, but so far the viability level is not reached for massive industrial application, "the researcher added.

Quantum computer, "the sacred grail"

Nor is it possible to achieve this viability in quantum computing.

Several companies from different nations are trying to develop them Although they are experimentally created, it is still not possible to put them on the market.

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"In fact, the quantum computer is the sacred grail," says the researcher at the Institute of Photonics in Barcelona.

"Here, all efforts in the field of CIC are moving directly or indirectly," he adds.

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All efforts in the field of CIC are moving towards the development of a quantum computer.

Classical computer processing, which runs in bits, controls the information in only two states, zero or one (switched on or off).

Quantum calculation, on the other hand, works with the superposition of both countries and uses the movement of subatomic particles for data processing in sums that can not be processed through classical calculations.

Although technology is mostly theoretical, it is expected that someday some calculations will be made, which, according to experts, will make the classical PCs look as if today we are seeing the bluff.

In the United States, companies such as IBM, Google and Microsoft are developing their own quantum computers.

And the same happens in China, where private companies – such as Alibaba and Baidu – are involved in the creation of quantum computers.

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It is believed that Google is ahead of the quantum computing race with the development of a processor with a power of 72 qubits.

But these computers are not easy to build: the main problem is the number of qubits that a computer can reach.

This is said Google will go to the front with the development of a processor with a force of 72 qubits.

There is also a maintenance problem. These computers must be stored at extreme temperatures to work.

The development of quantum computers that can operate at room temperature is currently a field of research into which countries focus their efforts.


But how will quantum technology revolutionize the future?

As Alejandro Pozas-Kerstjens explains, what we can expect is "a revolution like the one that caused the emergence of the first computers. "

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The quantum calculation uses the movement of subatomic particles to process data in quantities that can not be processed by classical calculations.

"From what allows us to do things that are now telling us a lot like manufacturing or prototyping medicines or optimizing traffic to try to spend less fuel."

"Such things will be crucial quantum computer problems.

But perhaps the greatest interest of governments is to use these quantum technologies in the field of defense, from being able to make more secure communications to the discovery of intrusive aircraft.

And who can say he wins this quantum race?

As Posez-Kersten says, this this is a "multiple" race.

"Perhaps we can say that in the quantum calculation perhaps the United States is at the forefront, but in the field of quantum communications it seems that China is winning."

"There are many aspects of quantum technology and many countries are trying to move forward or take the lead in some of these aspects."

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