What challenges and opportunities exist for quantum technologies in the UK?

23 July 2019


Banner image source: Stanford School of Engineering

At the CSaP annual conference on 26 June, a panel of experts from York University, BEIS and the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl) gave some thought-provoking insights on the opportunities and challenges of quantum technologies in the UK.

The debate opened with an overview of the opportunity for quantum technologies to develop completely secure communications systems which are immune to external interference, and the potential for quantum technologies to impact on economic growth in the UK.

Professor Timothy Spiller (York University) gave a summary of the current state of quantum technologies in the UK. Four UK hubs exist to support research into quantum computing, quantum communications, quantum imaging and quantum sensors. The UK is leading the development of quantum communications devices for the next generation of secure communications systems and Professor Spiller's group at York has developed prototypes of handheld quantum communications devices, potentially opening up new means of secure communication.

Louis Barson (BEIS) described government’s role in supporting and championing the technologies via incentives driven by his department. In addition to promoting the basic science, their focus is to develop a manufacturing base for such new technologies to be deployed to market which includes training a skilled workforce in the complex manufacturing industry.

The discussion then explored the advantages and disadvantages of different quantum computing systems, using superconducting materials cooled to extremely low temperature or using ionic trapping devices. Furthermore, the development of quantum coding algorithms and quantum computer simulators were noted as recent advancements in the field which preclude the deployment of fully-fledged quantum computers in the future. A key point raised during the discussion was that there are still no clear government applications for quantum computers.

Louis Barson

Institute of Physics

Professor Timothy Spiller

University of York

  • 26 June 2019, 9:30am

    CSaP Annual Conference 2019

    CSaP's Annual Conference will bring together members of our network from government, academia and elsewhere to discuss some of the policy challenges we have worked on over the past year.