The first quantum revolution
Einstein’s work on light and matter interacting led to him observing the “photoelectric effect”. This work ultimately led to the invention of semiconductors, atomic clocks, satellite navigation, lasers, MRI scanners and many other devices that use quantum mechanics – the first quantum revolution.
The work currently being done by tech companies is tantalizingly close, as is the second quantum revolution. The UK Quantum Technology Hubs are researching applications in four distinct areas:
- information technology
- enhanced imaging
- secure communications
Quantum technology stands to bring massive improvements to many aspects of life; how we measure gravity, magnetic fields, light, rotation and time, it will allow us to capture higher-definition medical scans, groundwater detectors and space observations. It will lead to cameras that can see through smoke, skin and even around corners too.
For now, many of these applications remain on the horizon, but lots are at prototype stage or even close to going to market. Perhaps the best-known goal of quantum mechanics are quantum computers, systems exponentially quicker than traditional ones that use transistors on microchips as opposed to a quantum computer’s ‘qubits.’
When quantum computers finally arrive, many of the problems that today’s supercomputers cannot tackle will become trivial. This will bring advances in medicine, engineering and countless more fields – The second quantum revolution.
With all these developments within reach, it truly is an exciting time to be a student of STEM subjects. For every new development of technology, many potential careers will open up. Many hubs for quantum technology have already been established and funded by the government across the country, opening the door for anyone interested in a career involved with quantum technology.
If the impact of the second quantum revolution matches the first, and the properties of quantum objects are more easily accessed and open to us, the world will be drastically changed. For now, keep an eye on any quantum breakthroughs and tell anyone interested in pursuing a career involved with them to do so.
Teaching resources based on quantum technology concepts can be found here