Quantum Information Science: Making the Leap

September 25, 2018 at 10:06PM NIST

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Quantum information science will contribute to one of the next revolutions in computing, but realizing that promise will stretch our scientific understanding and technological skills to their limits. We sat down with NIST Physical Measurement Laboratory Acting Director Carl Williams to get his take on the potential and challenges of this disruptive new discipline.

How would you describe quantum information science?

CJW: Quantum information science (QIS) is really the merger of two of the great scientific quests of the 20th century: quantum mechanics—the foundation of everything that works on the subatomic level—and information and computation theory. In the latter part of the 20th century, we realized that these two were intimately connected. QIS uses the stranger properties of quantum mechanics—its probabilistic nature, superposition, entanglement—to transmit, compute and move information. We have already been using quantum mechanics, albeit at a semi-classical level, to build some of the defining technologies of the 20th century, like the transistor and the laser.