EU Science Hub

Scientific support to policy-making: new applications of quantum technologies for computing, communication, metrology and sensing

Mar 07 2013

Quantum technologies are one of the most promising fields in science today. They have the potential to revolutionize our computing, communication, metrology or sensing technologies. As a result, they could considerably boost our growth and jobs and have therefore raised a strong interest at a political level over the last few months.

At this stage, European scientists are the frontrunners in the field of quantum technologies. It is therefore crucial to help them to stay ahead in this competition and to turn ground breaking science into new products and markets.

The time is mature to gather around the same table scientists, industries and policy-makers to better understand the recent progress of research, to see the perspectives opened by quantum technologies, and to examine the respective roles and responsibilities.

As the in-house science service of the Commission, the Joint Research Centre has recently begun to reinforce its capacities for foresight analysis. In this context, the present meeting is expected to enable a first hand-description of the state of the art in the field of quantum technologies.

After the opening session, Serge Haroche, Nobel Prize laureate 2012, will deliver a key note speech after which the discussions will be split into three consecutive sessions which will reflect the three main sectors in the emerging field of quantum technologies: quantum computers and simulators, quantum communication, and quantum metrology and sensing.

Roundtable report

Agenda and presentations

09:00 - 09:30   Registration and welcome coffee

09:30 - 10:00   Opening session

  • Dominique Ristori, Director-General, Joint Research Centre
  • Patrizia Toia, Vice-Chair of the ITRE Committee, European Parliament

10:00 - 10:30   Keynote speech

10:30 - 10:40   The potential of quantum technologies from the US perspective

10:40 - 10:45   Scene setting – introduction to the sessions

10:45 - 11:30   Session 1: Quantum computers and simulators

Two important sub-areas will be explored in this session:

  • Quantum computers. Thanks to ‘massive parallelism’ built into their hardware, these computers would allow unprecedented computing power with which the simulation and understanding of complex systems and phenomena could become feasible.
  • Quantum simulators. These are smaller scale special purpose quantum computers with the ability to fully simulate the physical properties of specific complex systems. As an example, one could simulate the transition temperature at which various chemical compounds become superconductors; the discovery of a high- (ideally room-) temperature superconductor would translate in lossless electric transmission lines. Other applications could include for example an accurate description of chemical compounds and reactions.

Moderator: Vladimir Šucha, Deputy Director-General, Joint Research Centre, European Commission


11:30 - 11:45   Coffee break

11:45 - 12:30   Session 2: Quantum communication

This is probably the commercially most advanced part in the field of quantum technologies, especially in the security area, in which medium range (a few hundreds of Km) quantum cryptographic systems are already available off the shelves and routinely deployed. New protocols should enable to extend the range of these systems and to guarantee the absolute security of all kinds of commercial transactions including the ones performed through the future (quantum) Internet. Work has also been initiated to develop new solutions in the field of smart grids and smart metering.

Moderator: Thierry Van der Pyl, Director for Excellence in Science, DG CNECT, European Commission


12:30 - 13:15   Session 3: Quantum metrology and sensing

New applications developed in this area could improve significantly the sensitivity and accuracy of devices:

  • In the field of medical screening, quantum technologies could allow for detailed (sub-micron) imaging of tissues for early detection and diagnosis of health problems.
  • In the field of GPS, atomic clocks based on quantum technologies could improve the precision of existing systems (for example the newly deployed ESA Galileo satellites) to such an accurate level to allow for example autonomous (i.e. without driver or pilot) ground and air transportation.

Moderator: Daniel Calleja, Director-General, DG ENTR, European Commission


13:15 - 13:30   Conclusions

  • Dominique Ristori, Director-General, Joint Research Centre, European Commission

Practical Information