Quantum Information Processing and Communication

Preparation for FP7 in Future and Emerging Technologies Unit, DG INFSO, EC

In view of the forthcoming FP7, the Unit Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) of DG Information Society and Media is now carrying out a Europe-wide consultation process with the relevant S&T communities in a number of ICT fields. The objective is to define the major challenges and promising research directions that FET could support in FP7 (see B-T-H articles in this issue).

Quantum Information Processing and Communication (QIPC) is now a well established scientific field which opens unconventional perspectives for information processing. It exploits fundamentally new modes of computation and communication with the aim to understand the quantum nature of information and to learn how to formulate, manipulate, and process it using physical systems that operate on quantum mechanical principles (control of coherent superpositions of quantum degrees of freedom – qubits). Today, there is a significant world-wide effort to advance research in QIPC, which has led to a deeper and broader understanding of information theory, of computer science and of the fundamental laws of the quantum world. Advances in QIPC could soon lead to new technologies and devices that hold the promise to radically change the way we compute and communicate.

Since its early steps, European scientists have been at the forefront of QIPC research. So far, FET is the sole part of the IST Programme that has been supporting QIPC research and has been very successful in attracting the best research teams in Europe. While the field has now reached a certain degree of maturity and there is critical mass in Europe in the main sub-fields, it is still necessary to further expand and strengthen activities at the European level. In view of the forthcoming FP7, FET and the European QIPC research community have actively been working during the last year towards the elaboration of a common European research strategy in the field. These efforts have culminated in the publication of a technology roadmap on 'Quantum Information Processing and Communication: Strategic report on current status, visions and goals for research in Europe'. This report was written by the most prominent scientists in the field and, after a wide consultation within the QIPC research community, it is now published on the FET web site (http://www.cordis.lu/ist/fet/qipc.htm#prepfp7).

The QIPC roadmap presents in a comprehensive way the state-of-the-art, the medium and long term goals and the visions and challenges for the future. It includes an overview of FET activities, a description of national research programmes and the worldwide research position of Europe in QIPC. The main bulk of the document is devoted to a scientific assessment of current results and an outlook of future efforts. It covers three main research directions: quantum communication, quantum computing and quantum information science, as well as the interactions and interdependences between them. The document stipulates the need for further support in these three research directions, as well as to keep a diversity of experimental realizations and to look for synergies between them in order to reach concrete objectives. Integration across different disciplines and between different experimental approaches is considered crucial for the further advancement of QIPC in Europe. Prospects for applications and commercial exploitation are equally discussed. The roadmap is a living document, which will be periodically updated in order to serve as a guideline both to scientists and decision makers.

In parallel to the strategic report, the research community in collaboration with FET has produced the publication "QIPC in Europe". It is a collection of 30 articles in "Scientific American" style written by 58 of the most prominent experts in Europe. It gives a balanced overview of QIPC research in Europe and refers to work accomplished within FET and nationally funded projects. These two documents complement each other and are important milestones along the way towards elaborating a common European strategy in QIPC. They are both published in the FET QIPC proactive initiative web site and by the Publications Office of the European Commission.

Link: http://www.cordis.lu/ist/fet/qipc.htm