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6 minutes read

What Is Quantum Technology?

By Jonathan Tarud
By Jonathan Tarud
HiTech
6 minutes read

If you are interested in supercomputers, you might ask: what is quantum technology? Quantum technology is a class of technology at the forefront of the latest advancements in computer science. Quantum principles are being researched, tested, and used in several fields, but computer science has shown the most promise and many early results. 

Quantum technology encompasses much more than the HiTech advancement of quantum computing. This post will explain what quantum technology is, in simple terms, related to quantum computing. We will also explore two of the principles key to understanding quantum physics as it relates to technology advancements, quantum superposition and quantum entanglement. 

Understanding Quantum Technology 

Quantum technology is powered by the complex subatomic principles defined by quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics is a high-level field of physics that studies the behavior of subatomic particles. If you don’t know what these particles are, subatomic particles are the basic building blocks of all matter, including atoms. 

The two principles of quantum mechanics that quantum technology primarily relies on are quantum superposition and quantum entanglement. These quantum principles enable scientists and engineers to build computers and other technologies that can outperform the capabilities of our current technology. However, before exploring quantum computers, we need to better understand quantum mechanics. 

What Is Quantum Superposition? 

Quantum superposition is a physics theory that subatomic particles can exist in multiple states at once. This might seem paradoxical, but this is an observable phenomenon of particles at the subatomic level. Superposition is essential to quantum computing, as we will cover later. For now, it is important to know that particles can exist in multiple states simultaneously. 

To simplify the concept of superposition and get you familiar with how quantum computing works, imagine binary code. Binary code consists of ones and zeros. A subatomic particle can be one or zero, or both simultaneously. This is quantum superposition. 

What Is Quantum Entanglement? 

Quantum entanglement occurs when two atoms become enmeshed or entangled despite being separated by space. Changes in one of these atoms instantly change the properties of the entangled partner atom. Theoretically, this atomic phenomenon would still occur even if the entire universe separated the two entangled atoms. If entanglement was not fantastic on its own, the principles of quantum mechanics also say that simply observing an atom changes its properties. 

Let’s revisit the example of our binary code atoms. Imagine you have a pair of entangled atoms: the first atom is a one and the second atom is a zero. Due to quantum entanglement by changing the properties of the first atom to zero, the properties of the second atom are instantly changed to one, or vice versa. 

What Is Quantum Computing?

Quantum computing is the highlight of quantum technology. Quantum computers harness the power of quantum superposition and entanglement to outperform the classical computers we are all familiar with in computational abilities. But, unfortunately, today’s best supercomputers cannot solve problems as quickly as quantum computers. 

Despite having thousands of CPU and GPU cores, classical supercomputers don’t have the working memory to hold the vast combinations associated with solving real-world problems. To understand how quantum computers work and why they are better than classical computers, we need to revisit our binary code example. 

The basic unit of information for classical computers is the “bit.” A bit is represented by a one or a zero. Computers interpret these bits and represent them in a wide range of different formats, including words and images. However, even the best classical computers, which are supercomputers, can only perform one calculation at a time. 

On the other hand, quantum computers can perform several calculations at once. Instead of using bits to represent information, quantum computers use quantum bits or qubits. Qubits are also represented by a one or a zero. However, thanks to the unique nature of subatomic particles and superposition, qubits can exist as one, zero, or both simultaneously. Using the nature of quantum mechanics, quantum computers can create immense multidimensional spaces to represent and solve complex real-world problems. 

For example, imagine a problem where you need to find a single item in a list of one trillion items. The best supercomputers in the world can check each item in one microsecond. Using one of these powerful classical computers  would take you about one week to solve the problem and find the item you were looking for. However, if you used a quantum computer and quantum algorithms, you could solve the same problem in roughly one second. 

Since the qubit can represent all possibilities, quantum computers are faster and more powerful than classical computers. So, where are all the quantum computers? 

The Challenges of Quantum Computing 

As a society, we are obsessed with the latest and greatest tech innovations. If quantum computers are so superior to classical computers, why aren’t we all using quantum computing? Quantum computers rely on superposition and entanglement, but these subatomic states are not default for particles. Achieving and maintaining quantum superposition and entanglement is difficult

Thus far, quantum computers work great in highly protected and controlled environments for short periods. Plus, since the states of superposition and entanglement are so fragile and difficult to maintain, quantum computers make a lot of mistakes and behave erratically. For example, to achieve superposition, particles must be kept at extremely low temperatures to the point where the atoms nearly stop moving entirely. 

The energy required to achieve these temperatures is immense and requires special equipment. Of course, this makes quantum computing costly. However, this does not mean that your business can’t experiment with quantum computing. 

The Good News 

Your organization likely doesn’t have the resources to buy or maintain your own quantum computer. However, tech giants like IBM, Google, and others offer interested users access to quantum computing resources and learn quantum algorithms over the cloud. The technology driving quantum computers will continue to improve, and one day soon, we might have quantum computers in our homes and offices. 

A Chinese company sells quantum computers for consumers but only has two qubits. However, computer scientists agree that you need at least 40 to 50 qubits to have a superior computational machine. 

Final Thoughts 

Quantum computing is available now, but this technology is still in the near future for most organizations. However, interested organizations can familiarize themselves with quantum computers through the cloud. If you need help understanding the complexities of quantum computing, speak with an experienced app development partner.

A skilled software developer will help your business understand the best ways you can utilize quantum computing in the present. We hope this post has helped answer the question: what is quantum technology?

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