The Australian physicist shook a heavy metal box the size of a beer cooler that contained a quantum sensor. Computer screens showed that despite the shock to the box, the sophisticated equipment inside hadn’t stopped, and the lasers were still manipulating the atoms into a state of sensitivity.
The physicist and his team have created an ultra-precise quantum navigation system that is difficult to detect, can be used when the satellite GPS network is jammed or is not working, and is durable and portable enough to be practical. From submarines to spacecraft, it is possible to continuously guide various military equipment for several months, with almost no risk of direction error, which is a major improvement on existing technologies.”It’s probably an exciting, almost unimaginable surprise that we can do this,” said Russell Anderson, head of quantum sensing at Q-CTRL, a start-up recently signed by the Australian Defense Force.
An agreement was established for the development and field testing of quantum sensor technology .The global race to develop various quantum technologies has accelerated as governments around the world pour money into the field and scientists make rapid technological progress. But to maintain an edge over China, which takes a national approach to concentrated investment in technology development, the U.S. is considering stricter export controls on
products related to quantum computing . Allies say that imposing more restrictions on top of what is already in place could stifle innovation because the strength of the U.S. model of technological development lies in its openness, which combines government funding for scientific research with private investment, with support from many countries scientists.
For the United States and its allies, the challenge is clear: how to balance protectionism and cooperation in a future-changing field where
talent is scarce and not all concentrated in the United States, making interdependence inevitable and more and more necessary.”The world has changed, and the pace of technological development is much faster than before,” said John Christiansen, a military fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, who recently co-authored a report on U.S., U.K. , Australia’s 2021 Security Agreement (AUKUS for short)
report . “We can’t just rely on Americans to always have the best.”U.S. Secretary of State Blinken and Defense Secretary Austin are in Australia this week for their annual bilateral meeting. Australian officials said they were likely to press the two U.S. officials to expeditiously clarify principles for sharing technology in the fast-changing field.Over the past few years, quantum technologies have approached
the moment of widespread application . Backed by companies, nations, and investors, scientists are harnessing the highly sensitive state of atoms for powerful sensors, safer communications systems, and ultrafast
quantum computers , enabling advances in artificial intelligence, drug discovery, mining, and more. Exponential progress in finance and other industries becomes possible.
By concentrating vast sums of money on universities and colleges with ties to the military, China has achieved quantum technology progress that nearly
equals or surpasses that of the United States . While some of China’s claimed breakthroughs and investment commitments in quantum technology have been
disputed , China’s expertise in the field began to grow markedly a decade ago. Chinese government investment in quantum technology has surged after the Edward Snowden leaks confirmed that US and British intelligence agencies had found ways to crack and spy on encrypted communications online.
In 2017, China established the National Laboratory for Quantum Information Science in Hefei, a
37-hectare park that will be the largest quantum science laboratory in the world upon completion. Chinese researchers have
satellite quantum communication network ” in 2021 that will connect satellites to Beijing-Shanghai optical fiber for quantum secure communications.“Snowden has had a psychological impact on China,” said Edward Parker, a physicist at the Rand Corporation who focuses on emerging technologies. “There’s also an element of national pride in it, and they think that quantum secure communication is a very obvious way to show that they have quantum technology that can lead the world.”Pan Jianwei, sometimes referred to as China’s ”
under the supervision of Professor Anton Salinger , one of last year’s Nobel Prize winners in physics . China’s most notable achievement in quantum technology is the use of the laws of quantum physics to protect data in communications.
According to the Key Technologies Tracker published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute , China appears to be lagging behind in the field of quantum computers (which can quickly perform a large number of calculations at the same time, making them faster than current computers that operate serially) and is shrinking The gap in quantum sensor technology for navigation, mapping, and detection. Chinese scientists have even
claimed that they have successfully developed a quantum radar that can spot stealth aircraft through small electromagnetic storms, although foreign quantum experts have cast doubt on the claim.One of the skeptics is Q-CTRL founder Michael Birsuk, 43. The American physicist, who earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University, has the air of a soldier. He moved to Australia in 2010 and now teaches at the University of Sydney. He and his start-up company (with offices in Sydney, Los Angeles, Berlin, Oxford) are among the global leaders in the quantum technology industry. They see hyperbole and politics in many of China’s claims about quantum technology, and they want to leverage technology-sharing partnerships like the AUKUS security agreement.”AUKUS is very important to us,” Bill Suk said, pointing to Q-CTRL’s work in quantum sensing and quantum computing. “AUKUS presents a real opportunity for the indigenous capabilities we are building in Australia to be brought to bear in an international framework.”About half of Q-CTRL’s 100 staff are Australian and the other half are from other countries, many of whom have experience working at
top US defense and civilian laboratories , including Bill Sook. The company’s main software product, which “stabilizes the hardware in case of various problems in the field,” Birsuke said, is used by quantum technology researchers in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, countries that are also making progress on precision sensor technology.
But it has become increasingly difficult to bring sensitive technology from one country to another, or use multinational teams to develop it.Australia has been figuring out how to keep its technological advances secret amid fears their technology could be used by larger nations to build their economies. Q-CTRL scientists based in Sydney have taken a cautious approach to sharing technical information with US colleagues to avoid the fallout from US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), restrictive protections for military technology Widely seen as a
major obstacle to military modernization for U.S. allies in the region .If U.S. officials follow through on their plans to expand export controls on quantum computing, along the lines of restrictions already begun on advanced microchips, the information itself could be considered an export, meaning it cannot be shared with anyone born outside the
U.S. details.”It would be very complicated if you had to separate the experimental facility to deal with the more sensitive stuff,” said Parker, a RAND Corporation physicist.
Many quantum technology businesses in the U.S. and elsewhere, including Q-CTRL, want sensible and clear guidelines. Australian officials and some U.S. lawmakers are also pushing for legislation not to treat Australian companies as foreign entities, which would exempt them from U.S. arms export regulations.
There is a distressing concern among many workers who work closely with cutting-edge technology. They worry that the United States and its closest allies risk losing the advantage that recent advances have given them by waiting too long to clarify the legal mechanisms for cooperating because innovation requires information sharing.On a recent afternoon, in Q-CTRL’s converted offices in a former locomotive yard, Bill Suk said the next few years are crucial. If friendly democracies fail to build quantum technological prowess together, other nations will quickly overtake them with stronger militaries and greater profit opportunities.“Believe it or not, China and any country allied with China will not restrict technology sharing for themselves or their partners,” he said. “Whenever we over-regulate an emerging field of science, we only run the risk of halting local progress and ceding technological superiority to rivals.”
Source : cn.nytimes.com