Government takes quantum leap with research centre investment


The Australian Research Council (ARC) has announced the official launch of the Centre of Excellence in Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T), a research and development hub set to position Australia at the forefront of innovation in quantum computing.

The Federal Government expects its $33.7 million investment in the hub to “usher in a new era in computing… that will help create the jobs and businesses of the future”.

“The Centre is a global leader in quantum computing research, using atoms to develop quantum processes in silicon and optical platforms that can transfer information over secure communication networks,” the Government said in a statement.

Alongside artificial intelligence and augmented reality, quantum computing is considered one of the three emerging technologies expected to “radically reshape the world”, according to Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella.

Experts believe quantum will completely upend our traditional binary-based computing processes, leading to transformative breakthroughs in – or potential dismantling of – cybersecurity (or more specifically, cryptography), blockchain, and complex computer modelling and simulations.

Presenting at the Centre’s opening, Coalition backbencher Jason Falinski said the CQC2T is already promising to deliver tangible innovations in quantum computing technologies.

“In addition to announcing major breakthroughs in the atomically precise 3D architectures for a large-scale silicon quantum computer, the centre has announced the development of the next generation of photonic microchips that will be the key to developing a large-scale photonic quantum computer,” he said.

The CQC2T is an international collaboration between seven Australian universities and more than 25 partners, considered “one of the largest combined efforts in quantum computation and communication research in the world”.

Led by the UNSW and headquartered at its Kensington campus in Sydney, the Centre will also maintain separate research nodes at the University of Melbourne, Australian National University, RMIT University, University of Technology, Sydney, University of Queensland, and Griffith University.

The CQC2T is headed Professor Michelle Simmons, Scientia Professor of Quantum Physics at UNSW’s Faculty of Science, and 2018 Australian of the Year.