How quantum computing technology apps are gaining momentum

Research in quantum computing is closely tied to the discipline of information theory, a mathematical concept concerned with communication, coding, and encryption. Various applications of quantum information theory were developed in the last 50 years.

As a result, quantum computing has been high on the research agenda of governments and technology organisations worldwide. In a quantum computing model, the basic unit of information is called the quantum bit (qubit), which can be represented by photons.

Using qubits and quantum gates, the development of a quantum circuit model of computation has been made possible, enabling the use of algorithms to theoretically solve highly complex mathematical problems in a much shorter time frame than is currently possible.

Quantum computing market development

Most experts now agree that the creation of a quantum computer is simply a matter of engineering, and that the theoretical application will happen. Optimistic estimates for commercialisation by the private sector vary between 5 and 15 years, while more conservative estimates by academics put it at 15-25 years.

The drive to create the first quantum computer has been viewed as the new arms race. The milestone to reach is that of quantum supremacy, essentially the performance of computation that goes beyond the capability of the latest and best supercomputers in existence today. But this drive is underpinning another, more pressing race: quantum cybersecurity.

ABI Research forecasts that the first attack-capable quantum machines will make their market debut by 2030.  "When they do, even the latest and best in class cybersecurity technologies will be vulnerable," said Michela Menting, research director at ABI Research.

The race to quantum supremacy is real: governmental R&D is accelerating the crystallisation of the quantum computer, with more than $1.6 billion already invested globally. The potentially drastic repercussions on cybersecurity is equally real and has led to the focus on quantum-safe cryptography.

Also known as post quantum cryptography, such research looks to the development of new cryptographic algorithms that could withstand breaking by quantum computers, ideally before such computers become commercially available.

Outlook for quantum computing technologies

Beyond and ahead of quantum computers, the use of the theory has also aided in developing new cryptographic techniques, notably quantum key distribution (QKD). Considered as a type of quantum-safe cryptography, QKD will likely be commercialised before the advent of quantum computers, because it is achievable using current technologies such as lasers and fiber optics. In that sense, QKD is one of the first quantum theories to find real-world applications.

Heavy private sector investment is going into quantum R&D. Since 2012, venture capital funds have pumped over $334 million into companies specializing in the space. Clearly, this is an early-stage market development opportunity with lots of upside growth potential.

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