Quantum is a revolution. It will change the way many of our modern systems and industries function, bring incredible advancements to our society that are hard to imagine today, and bolster, with a strong sense of reality, the idea that anything is possible. It will be as transformative to the next century as computers and the internet were to the last.
What we commonly refer to as “quantum” is actually “quantum information science and technology.” This is the combination of quantum mechanics – the discipline of physics that examines the physical properties of nature at the scale of atoms and their component particles – and information theory – the study of the quantification, storage, and communication of information. It is a fundamentally different way of generating and processing information than our conventional computers and systems.
In conventional computers, information is based on bits. Bits are zeros or ones based on the states of the transistors (essentially electricity gates that are the fundamental building blocks of computers) through which the electrical current has traveled. They are binary and sequential. Quantum computing, however, is based on “quantum bits” or “qubits” that – through the quantum mechanical properties of superposition and entanglement – have a probability of being a zero or one and can be analyzed at the same time. They are continuous and simultaneous.
So what does this all mean? Simply, we can do more with less, more quickly.
Here’s a real-world example. The molecule for penicillin has 41 atoms. If a biomedical researcher wanted to create a simulation model to understand how penicillin interacts with bacteria using conventional computing, she would need 1086 bits, which is more than the total number of atoms in the observable universe. Due to this, she might have some trouble making that work. Using quantum computing, the model would need 286 qubits. Such a configuration is a reality today. Atom Computing, a California-based quantum company with a large Colorado presence, was the first to reach the 1,000 qubit milestone in October 2023.
Quantum can make way for more effective drugs and personalized medicine, more efficient renewable energy generation, enhanced cybersecurity, improved artificial intelligence, novel materials discovery, better climate and weather models, and many other things. These are just a small fraction of ways quantum will change the world.
Colorado has a long history of pioneering new technologies and blazing quantum trails. It is true that Colorado is the proverbial “godfather” of the quantum computing industry. In fact, the 2-qubit gate, a fundamental quantum computing building block, was first demonstrated in Boulder at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
We lead the world in quantum science and the concentration of quantum organizations and jobs. We are one of only two states with multiple large-scale quantum computing companies and the only state with significant quantum infrastructure players in both quantum optics and low-temperature quantum systems.