The Department of Defence is reaching out to the technology industry and universities as it pours $6 million into quantum technologies research.
The main goal of the research is to highlight the potential benefits and practical limitations of quantum technologies through studies and demonstrator systems within three years, defence minister, Christopher Pyne, said.
Pyne suggested that quantum technologies have tremendous potential to lead to profound benefits across many sectors including healthcare, communications and defence.
“Quantum technologies could bring game changing advantages for Defence, in areas including timing, sensing and navigation capabilities, communications and quantum computing,” he said.
“This research aims to accelerate the exploitation of quantum technologies in a range of applications, such as highly accurate time-keeping and advanced Global Positioning System (GPS)-independent navigation.”
One area of particular interest for the Department is GPS-independent navigation. Typically, GPS can’t be used under water or indoors and is vulnerable to being blocked by jamming devices or solar weather activity.
“I strongly encourage Australian industries and universities to contribute to this research with their innovative technologies and ideas,” he said.
The quantum technology proposals are being split across two categories: one focused on smaller proposals which deliver studies to inform Defence on the applications, feasibility and practical limitations of quantum technologies; and larger proposals which address the development of concepts, algorithms or technology demonstrators, which contribute to the development of relevant capabilities.
Quantum technologies represent a key element of the Federal Government's $730 million Next Generation Technologies Fund, managed by the Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group, which aims to provide new capabilities for the Australian Defence Force.
The move comes as quantum computing research heats up in Australia, with the prospects of commercial applications beginning show promise. In December, IBM revealed the identities of no fewer than 12 of its first clients to sign up for early access to its 20 qubit quantum computer.
Among the first round of clients was Australia’s University of Melbourne, along with, JPMorgan Chase, Daimler AG, Samsung, JSR Corporation, Barclays, Hitachi Metals, Honda, Nagase, Keio University, Oak Ridge National Lab and Oxford University in the UK.
Microsoft has also released a free preview of its Quantum Development Kit in order to help partners and end users familiarise themselves with the vendor’s Q# programming language.
Microsoft first announced its Quantum Development Kit at its Ignite conference in September last year, saying at the time that the kit would be designed for developers keen to learn how to program on quantum computers.