Imperial has launched an initiative to gather its world-leading experts in quantum science and engineering to develop technologies of the future.
Working closely with industry, Imperial College London's QuEST (Centre for Quantum Engineering, Science & Technology) initiative will help ensure discoveries in quantum science become transformative technologies that benefit society.
The new project complements the launch of the UK Government’s National Quantum Strategy – a 10-year vision which pledges to cement the UK’s leading position in quantum science.
“QuEST comes at a critical time, as the global race in quantum technology R&D gathers pace and the UK seeks to maintain its position as a leader in this sector.” Professor Peter Haynes Director of QuEST
From quantum ‘compasses’ that could allow navigation without satellites, to creating supercomputers, and developing new algorithms for finance, advances in quantum research are accelerating every day and hold the potential to transform life as we know it.
Such discoveries could dramatically improve the technology we use every day, potentially revolutionising major industries including energy, finance and security.
Imperial’s track record
The QuEST initiative builds on Imperial’s track record of world-leading discovery science in quantum, including a recent recreation of the famous double slit experiment, which showed light behaving as both a particle and a wave, in time rather than space.
“Universities will be a key part of the UK’s quantum efforts by pushing the horizons of our scientific knowledge, working with partners to translate ideas into technologies, and providing firm foundations for the start-ups and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.” Professor Ian Walmsley Imperial’s Provost and Chair in Experimental Physics
Professor Peter Haynes, Director of QuEST, said: “QuEST comes at a critical time, as the global race in quantum technology R&D gathers pace and the UK seeks to maintain its position as a leader in this sector.”
He explained: “To push forward the boundaries of quantum technology, transdisciplinary efforts are needed involving physics, chemistry, computer science, materials and, increasingly, engineering. With deep expertise across each of these areas, Imperial is well-placed to make a leading contribution. We are focused on making quantum technologies – and the benefits they hold – a reality, by working collaboratively across academia and in close partnership with businesses and policymakers.”
The initiative was launched at an event on 4 July, with speakers including Professor Peter Haynes, Co-Director of QuEST, Professor Ian Walmsley, Imperial’s Provost, and Dr Jessica Wade, Research Fellow in chiral materials in Imperial’s Department of Materials.
Speaking at the event, Dr Jess Wade said: “The next generation of quantum technologies will open a world of opportunity that requires several conceptual and technical breakthroughs to make them a reality.”
She explained: “Imperial are well placed to solve such challenges. Across campus, researchers are developing the software and hardware that will underpin these future quantum technologies. Alongside our research, our academics are committed to teaching and training the next generation of quantum leaders - providing essential technical skills as well as embedding Imperial’s key values of collaboration, integrity and innovation.”
Also in attendance was Lord William Hague of Richmond, Former Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, who discussed the global competition taking place in science and technology. Speaking at the event, he noted Imperial’s invaluable role in the UK’s efforts to lead in science and innovation as a pre-eminent university in the UK and internationally.
He said: “We are living through a 21st century technological revolution as huge in its implications as the 19th century Industrial Revolution. Yet one that is more rapid and universal.”
“It is essential that the UK and our partners lead in the global race for technology. Whichever countries do so will reap the greatest economic benefits and effectively write the rule book for how these technologies are able to function.”
“This is why I am urging both main political parties to make leadership on science and innovation our new national purpose. Achieving this will require a range of measures to establish the UK as a global leader in keystone technologies integral to the future of the world. Quantum is one of those technologies.”
Sir Peter Knight Emeritus Professor of Quantum Optics at Imperial, and Dr Carmen Palacios-Berraquero, Co-Founder and CEO of Nu-Quantum, also spoke at the event.
Professor Ian Walmsley, Imperial’s Provost and Chair in Experimental Physics, said: “The UK is already a leader in quantum science and technology. We must now maintain our hard-won advantage and work closely with key partners to create new opportunities in security and business to harness the potential quantum holds.”
He stressed: “Universities will be a key part of the UK’s quantum efforts by pushing the horizons of our scientific knowledge, working with partners to translate ideas into technologies, and providing firm foundations for the start-ups and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.”
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