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Message from CQT Director Artur Ekert:
reflections on 2013

Six years and counting. Publications, citations, invitations and the like will tell you part of the CQT story, but to really appreciate what our Centre has achieved you need to hear the gossip and tales from our small island of Singapore. We are proud that we have made our mark in the international scientific community; we are equally proud of our place in Singapore's research scene. Without any false modesty, we seem to be doing well on both fronts.

Needless to say, it does not mean it is all rosy. We had our share of uncertainties this year. The main issue that kept some of us busy was long-term financial planning. CQT was established in December 2007 with generous core funding from Singapore's Ministry of Education and National Research Foundation, in the form of a one-off grant. This year the two organisations have been discussing how to fund the Centre's continuing operations. I'm pleased to say they have agreed another tranche of core funding. Alongside the grants our researchers are winning, we are now set up for the years to come.

Truth be told, we should not complain about uncertainty anyway, for this is what we study for a living. Uncertainty is a defining feature of quantum theory. In the quantum realm, a single measurement may return different answers with different probabilities, and for some pairs of answers, knowing one means being uncertain about the other.

This year our researchers showed that quantum uncertainty may help prevent the possibility of a perpetual motion machine. Moreover, our researchers secured a grant worth almost $10 million to study randomness in all its quantum incarnations. Randomness, of course, is uncertainty by another name, and it's a very valuable resource, for example for creating privacy in communication, for simulations and for gaming.

Here connections with cryptography are visible. This year saw lots of preparatory work for fascinating things to come. We will be sending sources of entangled photons way up into space to see how they perform in this alien environment. Back on the ground, we are detecting entangled photons with near-perfect efficiency. This experimental work will take secure communication to an entirely new qualitative level and will provide the best privacy quantum technology can offer.

Even though we are mostly focused on fundamental research we do care about the applications and industrial relevance of quantum technology. This year we welcomed Serguei Beloussov to our Governing Board. Serguei, who is a self-made entrepreneur and a physicist by training, is very passionate about turning blue sky research into commercial products. Quantum technology is slowly coming of age, and we will be looking more and more often into its applied side.

Our birthday is a good time to reflect upon our main asset – our people. This year another 8 CQTians got their PhDs, and this impressive group of young researchers began the next step of their careers. If you are one of our graduates, do not worry, there is life after CQT. This year we also said goodbye to one of our PIs – Andreas Winter took a faculty position in Barcelona. We wish him all the best in remote Catalonia and hope to see him frequently as a visitor.

Back at CQT, we congratulated Joe and Troy on their award of the NRF fellowships, Murray, Rahul and Stephanie on their promotions to Associate Professorships at NUS and Rainer on his promotion to an Associate Professorship at NTU. Some of the undergraduate students we hosted for projects yet again won prizes. We are proud of all of you!

As always, the year was filled with all kinds of activities, conferences and meetings. And we have not forgotten about the outreach. Our film-maker in residence, CQT's first Outreach Fellow, Karol Jalochowski, transformed quantum conundrums into a beautiful documentary.

You can find more about all we've done this year in our Annual Report for 2013 – I hope that you will find it a pleasure to read.

Director's messages from other years: 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

Office: S15-03-07
Phone: +65 6516 5102
Email: CQTDir@nus.edu.sg

Artur Ekert is CQT's founding Director. He is also the Lee Kong Chian Centennial Professor at the National University of Singapore and the Professor of Quantum Physics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, UK. He is one of the pioneers of quantum cryptography. He has worked, communicated with and advised several companies and government agencies. His current research extends over most aspects of information processing in quantum-mechanical systems. He is a recipient of several awards, including the 1995 Maxwell Medal and Prize by the Institute of Physics and the 2007 Royal Society Hughes Medal. In his non-academic life he is an avid scuba diver.