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IEK360系列|台灣應聚焦系統、元件、軟體三領域發展量子技術 (2019-08-30 IEK產業情報網 )

With Moore’s Law approaching its limit, quantum computing will rewrite the rulebook of the industry and accelerate the adoption of new applications. Governments around the world are investing in quantum communication and quantum computing.
In May 2016, IBM published the Quantum Experience, an online platform to access IBM's prototype quantum processors for applications in artificial intelligence, machine learning, security coding/decoding and material dimensionality. Google purchased quantum computers from D-WAVE in Canada for optimal algorithms, artificial intelligence, image processing and space exploration. According to the report on semiconductor innovation, competitiveness, and security released in January 2017 by the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, quantum computing will dramatically enhance the accuracy of global climate forecasts and the monitoring of information security.
In general, international players seek to commercialize both hardware and software. The hardware focus is on systems, predominantly the increase of quantum numbers, stabilization of quantum states (e.g. debugging and coherence times) and dealing with constant quantum entanglements. When it comes to algorithms, open source was established to lower development barriers by inviting participants for testing.
It is worth noting that quantum technology is distinctively different from the mainstream information and communication technology in terms of materials, components, system architectures and manufacturing process. Structurally speaking, the bottlenecks in the development of quantum computing can be divided into the logical layer and the physical layer. The problem with the logical layer is that it is unclear what applications will become mainstream. Quantum computing algorithms can only address very specific issues and are lacking in universality and development talents. On the physical layer, the quantum state is fragile, and it is necessary to extend the coherence times to complete effective computing, reading and access of information. Meanwhile, quantum entanglements cause disability and create the need for debugging and hence exhaust a massive amount of computing resources. All these issues mean a high entry barrier for the development of quantum computing and its applications.
Because of the abovementioned reasons, it is necessary to invest significant resources and time if Taiwan would like to develop quantum computing systems. However, this investment would not be without returns. Quantum processing units (QPU) should be manufactured on superconductive silicon wafers in specialist foundries. Also, low temperatures are key to quantum coherence. It is suggested that Taiwanese companies work with international system vendors by focusing on the R&D of microwave control systems for QPUs (for the access of quantum information), QPU testing and packaging and low-temperature components. This will be the best approach to leverage Taiwan’s strengths in the supply chain.
Given the emphasis on security and confidentiality of quantum communication (rather than on communication efficiency), the bulk of R&D efforts are on quantum key distributions (QKD). Single photons are currently adopted by most people. In fact, there are still technical barriers in the design of quantum repeaters due to the fragility of quantum states. Hence, Taiwan may invest in the R&D of adjustable light sources for quantum communication systems (in relation to optics) and management software for quantum key distributions.
It will be necessary for the industries in Taiwan to establish a global picture of relevant patents owned by different countries. The author searched for these patents by using key words and identified a total of 9,446 patents relating to quantum technology. The number of patent applications for quantum computing has picked up significantly since 2013. Nearly 50% were from the U.S., followed by Canada, Japan, Australia, the U.K., Korea and China. The focus is on Qubit, microwave control and algorithms. Some companies have started working on quantum networking, for communication between quantum computers. China owns close to 33% of the patents in quantumcommunication. Other countries in the top 12 list are the U.S., Japan, Korea, the U.K., Finland, France and Canada. The focus is on photon systems/components, QKD hardware and software. Many manufacturers are also making efforts in coding/decoding and security keys such as key sharing and backup key vaults.
The U.S. is currently the leader in superconductor patents. Japan boasts the highest number of patents in optics. Taiwan has four patents in quantum communication. Two of these patents are owned by individuals and are for quantum devices and quantum key systems. The other two were one from Chunghwa Telecom in 2011 for quantum key service networks and one from National Cheng Kung University for quantum communication.
In sum, Taiwan will not be absent from the global race for quantum technology. The initial focus may be placed on the development of quantum communication components, hardware and software. Centring on optical components, research institutions and academic organizations should utilise their cumulative R&D momentum and work with telecom companies for the certification of quantum communication networks. This may also be the initial emphasis of quantum patent applications. Quantum networking is an emerging area in quantum computing. Many foreign start-ups are dedicated to the development of algorithms, independent of hardware. This could also be a preferred entry mode for Taiwan.
本文原刊載於IEK產業情報網,著作權為工研院產科國際所所有。
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