09 Dec 2021
To develop devices and technologies powered by photonics and quantum science.Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has launched the Quantum Science and Engineering Centre (QSec), which aims to develop devices and technologies powered by quantum science.
The center, the first of its kind in Singapore, will conduct research on developing and producing quantum chips using semiconductor fabrication technologies. These chips form the basis of quantum devices such as quantum chip processors, networks, and sensors. The center also aims to train skilled manpower for quantum engineering, the application of quantum science to real-world scenarios, and to promote and develop Singapore’s quantum industry.
It will collaborate with the Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT), a Research Centre of Excellence established since 2007, on quantum technology research and engineering application, and look to establishing an international platform to collaborate with other overseas partners.
At the opening ceremony for QSec, attended by Chan Chun Sing, Minister for Education and NTU President Professor Subra Suresh, Singapore’s Education Minister Mr Chan Chun Sing said, “Quantum science, technologies, and engineering have drawn huge investments worldwide. Singapore is a long-standing investor in its potential and remains at the forefront of this field.
“In 2018, the National Research Foundation started a quantum engineering programme with the goal of establishing a competitive quantum engineering research community and industry ecosystem to translate the technology into real-world applications. We look forward to the Centre’s contributions to Singapore’s efforts in advancing quantum technologies, especially in the development of quantum computing chips and quantum communications.”
NTU President Professor Subra Suresh said, “QSec aims to conduct ground-breaking research in several areas: quantum key distribution chips, quantum computation, quantum and classical neural network, cluster state computation and quantum sensing. Our focus in these areas is part of our strategy to be a key enabler in the development of quantum science technologies to support Singapore’s efforts in quantum engineering for the benefit of industry and society.”
Light-based quantum chips
One of the QSec’s main research projects is the development of a quantum computing chip that can perform quantum calculations using an integrated photonic chip, which can be made with semiconductor materials such as silicon wafer. Such quantum processor chips hold the promise of solving complex calculations that are impossible for classical computers.
QSec researchers are exploring how photonics engineering can be used in a quantum context. While classical computers use electricity to flip the binary switches between their one and zero states, quantum chips, however, can use single particles of light (photons) to represent qubits.
By using lasers and beam splitters within a chip circuit, researchers can manipulate individual photons as qubits. This method, called boson sampling, uses light to perform quantum calculations which can far exceed the performance of supercomputers. Creating such a quantum photonic chip that can do this will open the possibility of bringing quantum computers into mainstream, real-world use.
As cyber attacks become more sophisticated and hacking tools become more powerful, quantum cryptography offers an alternative to secure sensitive information against future cyber-attacks and unforeseen technological advances. The best-known developed application of quantum cryptography is quantum key distribution (QKD), a method that allows two remote users to exchange secret keys in the presence of an attacker who may own unlimited computing resources.
QSec researchers have managed to develop a quantum communication chip small enough to fit into everyday devices such as laptops or smartphones, which could lead to highly secure, encrypted communication.
QSec is also currently developing a sophisticated version of QKD chips called measurement-device-independent quantum key distribution (MDI-QKD) that aims to make QKD even more secure. MDI-QKD chips will also allow for multi-user quantum communication, going beyond the two-user applications of traditional QKD.