Quantum technology is maturing rapidly
Illustration: Mary Delaney
Quantum technology isn’t yet ready for widespread adoption, but some useful applications are starting to move from the research lab to the real world.
Quantum technology will be a major technical focus for the U.S. and other players this decade. The industry is projected to grow to $65 billion by 2030 with the U.S. government alone investing hundreds of millions of dollars on research.
How it works: When subatomic particles are confined and isolated, their physical properties change and new properties emerge. Perhaps the most notable example is superpositioning, a “quantum state” in which physical properties can exist in multiple states at once.
For example, classical computers use bits, which represent information in binary (1 or 0). Quantum computers use quantum bits (qubits), which can be 1 and 0 simultaneously.
“An analogy we like to use is a coin in the air as it’s being flipped,” said Joe Kovba, a quantum and cyber technology expert at Leidos. “It can be thought of as being in both a heads and tails state at the same time.”
Kovba said Leidos is focused on three specific fields:
- Quantum sensing, which offers greater sensitivity than today’s most advanced sensors.
- Quantum communication, which offers greater protection of information.
- Quantum computing, which offers exponentially faster speeds than classical computing.
Kovba said the rise of quantum technology will also present new threats.
“For example, greater computing power means potential cybersecurity risks,” Kovba said, “so we’re paying close attention to when and how hackers may be able to use quantum computing for harm.”
Last year, Leidos established a quantum computing council to research timelines and security modifications necessary to defend against future quantum computing attacks.
Looking ahead: Leidos has developed two novel applications of quantum technologies it hopes to demonstrate in laboratory and field experiments in 2022. Dr. Elizabeth Iwasawa, a Leidos quantum technology expert, said she expects them to be ready for use cases in the defense industry within the next two years.
"Over the next ten years, in collaboration with diverse work across many initiatives at Leidos, we expect to see innovative quantum technology solutions enabling new discriminating Leidos products and services," she said.
Please contact the Leidos media relations team for more information.