The JRC hosted today a round table on the potential applications of quantum science and the development of new technologies in the areas of computation, simulation, communication, metrology and sensing. It also focused on the challenges that these new technologies may bring to the European policy making landscape.
The event included the participation of 2012 Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, Serge Haroche, for his work on quantum systems. The JRC and DG Enterprise Directors-General and the JRC Deputy Director-General, along with several representatives from research and industry also took part.
Among the conclusions, Dominique Ristori, JRC Director-General, stressed the potential of new quantum developments to boost growth and jobs in the EU. He highlighted the leading role of European research in this area and called for a transformation of this knowledge into concrete market applications, a step where Europe is traditionally weaker than its competitors. He mentioned for instance the huge potential of quantum technologies to boost the EU's services sector and cross-border e-commerce by minimising the security risks.
Last but not least, he also identified several challenges for this endeavour, not only scientific, industrial or commercial, but also linked to better communication of the potential of science to European citizens to overcome societal resistance to innovation, and to better policy-making by ensuring that scientific knowledge is taken up in European policies as effectively as possible and takes into account the full spectrum of possibilities offered. He also underlined the importance of standards and international collaboration in this process.
Quantum technologies promise to revolutionise many areas of science and technology, providing for instance super-fast computers, fully secure communications, more accurate measurement devices and sensors or extremely precise clocks that could be the basis for new GPS systems.
Europe plays a leading role in quantum research, and European scientists are among the frontrunners in this field. Roughly, half of the world's academic output on quantum theory comes from EU-based groups. Quantum science is not new and already has a direct link with the main revolutions in the information and communication technologies throughout the 20th century. However recent breakthroughs in quantum science promise further revolutionary technologies within a medium timeframe.
The fact that commercial applications for these technologies might be closer in time (2 to 10 years, depending on the applications) has triggered recently a significant increase of funding in this area, in particular in the US, Canada, Australia and some countries in Asia.