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Quantum Science and Technology

  • Context (TH): UN has designated 2025 as ‘International Year of Quantum Science and Technology’.
  • The International Year coincides with the 100th anniversary of German physicist Werner Heisenberg‘s pivotal paper, which laid the foundation for quantum mechanics.
  • The initiative aims to increase global awareness about the importance of quantum science and its applications through year-long, worldwide activities.

National Quantum Mission

  • The National Quantum Mission (NQM), launched in 2023 (budget – Rs. 6003.65 crore), aims to propel India to the forefront of quantum technology research and development.
  • The mission’s advancements promise benefits in communication, healthcare, finance, and energy, impacting drug discovery, space exploration, banking security, and sustainable development.
  • It supports national initiatives like Digital India, Make in India, Skill India, Stand-up India, Startup India, Self-reliant India, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • It is implemented by the Department of Science & Technology.

Objectives

  • To develop intermediate-scale quantum computers (50-1000 physical qubits) within eight years, leveraging both superconducting and photonic technologies.
  • To establish secure communication networks within India and internationally.
  • To develop high-sensitivity magnetometers using atomic systems and ultra-precise atomic clocks for enhanced timing, communication, and navigation applications.

Thematic Hubs

  • The NQM will establish four Thematic Hubs (T-Hubs) housed within leading academic and national R&D institutes. Each hub will specialise in a specific area:
    • Quantum Computing
    • Quantum Communication
    • Quantum Sensing & Metrology
    • Quantum Materials & Devices

Quantum Materials and Devices

  • This hub aims to design and synthesise novel materials, such as superconductors, advanced semiconductors, and topological materials, for building quantum devices.
  • Also, single-photon sources/detectors and entangled photon sources should be developed for use in quantum communication, sensing, and metrology.

Quantum Computers

  • Quantum science and technologies, particularly quantum computers, have gained increasing attention.
  • Quantum computers are a fundamentally different type of computing technology that harnesses the principles of quantum mechanics to perform calculations.
  • Quantum computers use quantum bits or “qubits” that can exist as 0, 1, or a quantum superposition (like 0s and 1s in classical computers) of both states simultaneously to perform calculations.
  • Fully operational quantum computers do not yet exist.
  • Quantum computers are expected to have transformative effects on electronics, clean energy, and drug development due to their superior computational abilities.

Other Initiatives of the Government of India

National Mission on Quantum Technologies & Applications (NM-QTA)

  • NMQTA, which aims to promote research, development, and commercialisation of quantum technologies, was announced in the Union Budget 2020-21 with a five-year outlay of Rs. 8000 crore.

Quantum Computing Applications Lab

  • It was set up by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in 2021 to carry out research towards developing applications using quantum computing.

Quantum Enabled Science & Technology (QuEST) Program

  • It was initiated by the Department of Science & Technology in 2019 to nucleate, nurture and coordinate efforts in quantum technologies. It also supports research projects across academia and industry in focus areas such as computing, communication, sensing, etc.
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