They’re new, and they’re arriving. Quantum computers may give humanity big step increases in technology sophistication, including for combating climate change and improving the power grid.
Conventional computer engineering uses classical physics to process data, with hardware parts made from huge collections of atoms.
Quantum computing instead processes data based on a sub-atomic particle’s characteristics when a magnetic force is applied – for instance turning and spinning these particles in various ways.
This granularity allows development of data processing and environment-sensing devices that are exponentially more accurate and powerful.
“Devices that use quantum sensing are also not subject to the same physical constraints as conventional sensors, allowing for exceptional reliability with less vulnerability to the signal jamming and other electromagnetic interference that is increasingly common with today’s light- and sound-based data sensors,” summarizes BAE.
The U.S. DOE and academic labs alike are now exploring myriad ways to apply quantum information sciences to transition infrastructure, the economy, and the environment. This includes both basic research and commercialization and deployment.
A few potential applications of new quantum sensors:
– Enhanced imaging
– Navigation and timing improvements
– Helping prevent methane leakage in hydrogen fuel cells
– Modeling useful chemical compounds in carbon capture processes
– Sophisticated contingency analyses, including preemptive detection and response on potential digital threats
– Precise measurement of environmental impacts of oil and natural gas drilling and other geothermal operations
– Determining when connected devices including renewable energy and electric vehicles will be assets or require synchronizing when bi-directionally powering the electricity grid.
In the future, quantum computers might put humanity in a superposition to find a compatible state with the planet.