March 29, 2021
Photons Canada news

The global race for Quantum and the role of Photonics

At Photonics West 2021 we took a look at the future with Quantum West This inaugural event was organized in partnership by SPIE and the Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C). Tuesday March 9,2021, the session of Quantum applications was presented, with interesting topics that covered Sensing, Imaging, quantum communication, information systems and computing.

Speakers from UK, EU and US have given their take on the technology which is just emerging and is holding a lot of promise.

On Thursday March 11,2021 during the Quantum West: Creating a Commercial Ecosystem session Mr. Milton Chang, discussed how the Quantum “industry” might develop based on fifty-some years of laser industry history. He recognizes that doing so is not easy given that we have to parse through truth and over-exuberant truth on quantum computing. The initial growth of the laser industry came from the development of new lasers and instruments to enable R&D. The growth accelerated as real applications were adopted. Funding for quantum technology development Mr. Milton Chang predicts will come from governments and big-tech. There will be ample startup companies to supply tools but only a few will succeed, which is no surprise.

Later in the day, Mr. Eric Ostby presented, Photonics Roles Today and Tomorrow in Superconducting Quantum Computing. In his opinion photonics is a niche tool for superconducting quantum computing processors today, but many people hope that will change as these machines scale. His talk provided an assessment of the role photonics plays today: fabrication, metrology, and of course networking. It did explore some ideas of how lasers, detectors, and other photonic components can help address technology gaps as quantum computers scale from 50 to 1,000 to 1,000,000 qubits.

In the panel discussion that has concluded the last Photonics West day with Photonics and Quantum:2021 and beyond. The panel has presented their view and answered questions from the audience. Anke Lohmann from Anchored In (UK) is seeing Photonics enabling quantum and she identifies large opportunities for integrated photonics, low loss devices, new materials, and PIC’s at low temperature. The gaps mentioned are sources, detectors, optics, and interface.

Quantum interconnect is an important role for photonics in quantum but like lasers still needs a lot of research.

In the quantum race the gap and the opportunities identified are workforce and policies on a global scale.

Link: Quantum West (

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