May 1981, suburb of Boston. A few dozen leading physicists and computer scientists have gathered for a symposium hosted by MIT and IBM. Richard Feynman, Nobel Prize in Physics, shakes the assembly by outlining a crazy idea: building a quantum computer. His intuition is simple: Since our universe is quantum, it is undoubtedly necessary to develop quantum computers in order to decipher and model it.
If the original idea of quantum computation is already more than 40 years old, its realization is still at the experimental stage. But it is currently experiencing a phase of remarkable acceleration thanks to the joint efforts of companies, researchers and public authorities. It must be said that the effort in quantum calculation is monumental, both from a scientific, economic and geopolitical point of view. Let’s check in.
What is Quantum Computing?
Quantum calculation is, as the name suggests, based on the principles of quantum mechanics. To summarize, quantum mechanics is the basic theory of matter particles and force fields that animate objects. It defines key principles, often not very intuitive, that have revolutionized the understanding of particles and their interactions.
Among them is the principle of duality, which makes it possible to consider particles as being both waves and blood cells. Or the principle of superposition of states: quantum physics describes objects in all the states where they could be simultaneously, as in the experiment with Schrödinger’s cat. Another of its basic principles is entanglement: two entangled particles continue to interact regardless of the distance between them. Quantum technologies mobilize these principles to increase their capacity or offer new functionalities.
Quantum at the service of technologies
Feynman’s feeling was right: the development of quantum technologies is a great revolution and still underway. Quantum technologies are already a part of our daily lives, for example in lasers, LEDs and semiconductors. But the current quantum revolution is giving them a new dimension, especially through quantum computing.
The principle of entanglement allows e.g. information to be teleported without physical support or clues, and therefore without the risk of hacking. The quantum understanding of matter allows for manipulating particles and for capturing and simulating their interactions with unmatched precision. Finally, the superposition of states makes it possible to multiply the computing power of our computer tools by simultaneously considering the various possibilities. Ultimately, therefore, the development of quantum computers could lead to a real revolution in terms of productivity.
Advances and challenges in quantum computers
The quantum computer is based on qubit, which is a quantum transposition of the bit used by our current computers. The bit operates in binary mode and takes the value “0” or “1” to encode the information. The Qubit, on the other hand, mobilizes the principle of state overlay to simultaneously take the values ”0″ and “1”. Its ability to perform fast calculations is multiplied, in proportions that pave the way for real technological revolutions.
However, the Qubit is complicated to handle and requires a very specific environment to function. And if multiplication of qubits makes it possible to exponentially increase the capacity of the computer, there is nothing simple in practice. Today, however, the major players in computer and digital R&D are multiplying experimental progress. IBM built a first 20-qubit computer, Intel boasts of having created a 49-qubit, while Google boasts of a 72-qubit chip. Some hope to see a 1 million qubit computer by the end of 2022.
Forty years after the idea of the quantum computer originated, it now seems to be on its way to becoming a reality. But we therefore have to wait a little longer to see the quantum computer lying on our desks.
Which sectors are affected by the quantum computer?
Digital technology is now present in all sectors of activity. Quantum computing can therefore potentially open up new possibilities in all areas, which makes it possible, for example, to model business cases or develop complex algorithms. However, it is particularly interesting for a number of high-effort sectors.
On the one hand, quantum computation allows for a better understanding, degradation, and modeling of matter. It therefore offers very promising opportunities in basic or applied physics and chemistry. This is of particular interest to medicine and the pharmaceutical industry, where understanding the interactions between molecules is a key issue. Quantum computing is also closely monitored by industrialists involved in areas related to materials.
In addition, all sectors of activity related to information, communication, networking and data processing are preparing to experience a quantum revolution. In terms of communication, the computer speed of the quantum computer has the potential to “crack” the most current encryption techniques. At the same time, quantum makes it possible to implement new forms of inviolable encrypted communication, by teleporting information without leaving traces or passing through a physical medium. In addition, quantum computing can work wonders in the form of computing and algorithms, which are about to revolutionize many sectors such as finance, by enabling the speed of automated trading to be further increased.
The computational power of the quantum computer also makes it possible to develop extremely high-performance sensors. These represent a great opportunity for the automotive industry, but also aerospace and especially satellites. They could also allow weapons or surveillance technologies to enter a new era …
What is the French strategy for quantum computation?
Not surprisingly, the quantum revolution is therefore a major challenge for states from an economic, but also strategic and geopolitical point of view. They are competing hard in this area and do not hesitate to invest billions to support R&D. Europe must not be surpassed, as the EU has mobilized 1 billion euros under the Quantum program. On the French side, in early 2021, President Emmanuel Macron announced a € 1.8 billion effort over five years. This is especially true of the massive development of quantum computers.
The French strategy is based on a triptych: on the one hand the university poles; on the other hand, large companies such as the supercomputer manufacturer Atos or the giant Thalès; and finally an ecosystem of innovative start-ups originating from research laboratories such as Pasqal, Quandelas, Muquans or even Alice & Bob, which has just raised 27 million euros. Far from surpassing in terms of quantum technologies, France claims its ambitions. However, the long-term vision for players in French industry is still less developed than that of its Anglo-Saxon or Asian competitors.
The research tax deduction in service of the quantum revolution
Along with public investment specifically targeted at quantum technologies, other public funding mechanisms can be mobilized for your R&D projects in this area. This is the case, for example, with the Research Tax Deduction, which can finance your investments, both material and human.
CIR relates to innovative basic research, applied research and experimental development projects regardless of activity sector. The CIR rate is 30% of eligible expenditure up to EUR 100 million per year and 5% thereafter. If you want to estimate the amount you can benefit from, we invite you to use our calculator.
Do not hesitate to contact the Myriad Consulting team to define the tax incentives and innovation support schemes to which your business is entitled. We establish and implement your financing strategy with you to support your innovative projects and help you take part in the quantum revolution!