Of course it is, and it will continue to be emerging until it’s fully commercialized. In all fairness, I don’t think commercialization is as far off as many of the naysayers. But I also have not been burned by the promises.
In 2022, Laser Focus World provided a fair amount of coverage to advances in quantum technology, which is a few layers under what most people think of when they hear quantum. It’s always a gamble devoting precious resources to emerging technologies. This is especially true with something like quantum. Although quantum has yet to reach a fully commercialized status, it has been around for quite a while—and unfortunately, many of its promises have remained unfulfilled. After all, it has been five years away for a few decades now.
However, last year was in many ways a turning point. From a research standpoint, significant progress transpired. Investments in learning more about quantum has resulted in finding monetizable ways to leverage one of the seemingly elusive forms of photonic technology.
And the best measure? Money. Simply put, companies are no longer hesitant to invest in quantum-based applications, at least when it comes to quantum computing. According to Zapata Computing’s Second Annual Report on Enterprise Quantum Computing Adoption, more than two-thirds of quantum-adopting global enterprises dedicated at least $1 million to quantum computing initiatives. The dedication of funds is significant in that it represents a 250% increase over 2021 spending. It is clear enterprises are ramping up their quantum preparedness.
And, while not all quantum computing is photonics-based, the research progression and continued reliance on photonics for high-performance computing makes both the reality and acceptance of photonics-centric quantum computing promising.
A look into what’s driving the investments in quantum paints a clear picture. According to the survey results, machine learning and data analytics continue to be the leading quantum use cases. Most have moved beyond testing with a noticeable focus on well-defined use cases and problems. Specifically, 71% of quantum-adopters indicated a focus on machine learning/data analytics problems, up from 55% in 2021.
Staying ahead of advanced threats is also driving interest in quantum. Specifically, post-quantum cybersecurity threats loom large. In addition to being the biggest challenge to quantum adoption cited by respondents, nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents are extremely or very concerned about post-quantum cryptography (PQC), and 63% of respondents are actively working with a vendor to prepare. The concerns reflect both the magnitude of the threat posed by quantum computers and the absence of clearly reliable solutions.
Lastly, quantum research receiving a Nobel Prize in 2022 does not hurt the emerging technology’s case, either.