The planet is immersed in a quantum race. Many powerful nations have announced plans to build sovereign quantum capabilities, and Singapore will be no exception. In 2022, Singapore will establish a National Quantum Office charged with developing a full-fledged national quantum strategy. The Agency for Science, Technology and Research will be the implementing agency. Singapore’s bet on quantum technologies is unequivocal.
As these national plans take shape, our goal is to make the Centre for Quantum Technologies the country’s quantum flagship. CQT’s research is already aligned in three main pillars on top of basic science, like those found in national strategies elsewhere: quantum communication and security, quantum computing and simulation, and quantum sensing and metrology. These commonly accepted thrusts can be completed with actions for enabling technologies, development of quantum talent, trustworthy outreach and international collaborations.
We highlight just some of CQT’s ongoing work in these areas in our annual report, from experiments on superconducting cavities to camps for school students. There is much more to come.
In 2021, the Quantum Engineering Programme (QEP) supported by the National Research Foundation, Singapore, has started awarding grants under its second phase. Teams at CQT are receiving substantial amounts to begin new projects and programmes. CQT will take leadership of the National Quantum-Safe Network that aims at securing communications for critical infrastructure and companies handling sensitive data, and the National Quantum Computing Hub that will deliver a quantum computer, middleware, applications and talent.
Further plans to secure solid funding for CQT are in the works. While QEP supports translational efforts, basic science remains essential for a pipeline of ideas and to attract good people. Quantum has been singled out as a strategic field by Singapore, and CQT must match this enormous national effort with excellence in research. Our colleagues in other countries are intelligent, well-prepared and well-funded. We need to focus, get coordinated, and move fast. We should collaborate rather than compete within Singapore to be internationally relevant. The creation of a full quantum ecosystem is at stake.
Many foreign quantum players are following closely our progress, as Singapore is seen as a technology hub for Southeast Asia. With actions to strengthen relations with the private sector, I’m convinced that quantum industry will flourish from Singapore. We see its beginnings in the startups that have emerged from CQT and the paths of our alumni.
Finally, let me repeat my mantra. Science is culture. Our discoveries and achievements are not just a means to meet performance targets or forge careers. Quantum science is far bigger: it is at the frontier of human understanding in our times. It is, in my opinion, a privilege to spend our lives working at the edge of knowledge.
José Ignacio Latorre
This view was first published in the CQT 2021 Annual Report. Read our annual reports here.
José Ignacio Latorre was appointed Director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies in July 2020. He is also Professor and Provost’s Chair in the National University of Singapore's Department of Physics. A leading figure in particle physics and quantum information, José Ignacio joined CQT, NUS from the University of Barcelona. He has been heading a research group at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center to build the first quantum processor in Spain. José Ignacio is also the founder of the Centro de Ciencias de Benasque Pedro Pascual, a Spanish scientific facility that is well known in the quantum information community for hosting workshops and conferences.