Tel Aviv University to set up center for quantum research
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Tel Aviv University to set up center for quantum research

Facility will focus on study programs, multidisciplinary research and international collaborations

An illustrative image of a quantum computing concept (metamorworks; iStock by Getty Images)
An illustrative image of a quantum computing concept (metamorworks; iStock by Getty Images)

Tel Aviv University (TAU) is setting up a center for quantum research, which it said will address the many aspects of “one of the most important fields of research of our time.”

The Center for Quantum Science and Technology was inaugurated at a research workshop on “From Quantum Computing to Quantum Chemistry,” which started Sunday at the university.

“The quantum revolution is knocking on our door, and many people expect it to be just as great and significant as the industrial and digital revolutions, completely transforming our technology and way of life,” said TAU rector Prof. Yaron Oz at the event, announcing the center.

The center will enable the university to enhance its presence in “this critical field,” he said. It will “serve as an umbrella for the extensive activities carried out on campus, while promoting collaborations at both the national and international levels.”

Tel Aviv University Rector Prof. Yaron Oz (Courtesy)

Quantum theory, also called quantum mechanics, dates to the beginning of the 20th century and describes the microscopic properties of any material. Within the scientific community, this technology is considered as revolutionary as nanotechnology. The US, China and European countries are rushing to develop technologies based on quantum principles, pouring billions of dollars into research efforts and vying for a leading spot in the emerging field.

“Applied quantum research is a relatively new field that is rapidly gaining momentum both in Israel and worldwide, and this is the right time to put considerable effort into it,” said Oz.

The new center will bring together about 20 research labs from different faculties that study various aspects of this field.

It will focus on three main activities: study programs in relevant tracks such as quantum computing and quantum communications; multidisciplinary research from disciplines including computing, materials, sensors, chemistry, physics and mathematics; and international ties with research centers and corporations including giants like Google, IBM and Microsoft, who are developing quantum technologies, alongside potential consumers like the financial sector, which must prepare for the advent of quantum computing, the university said in a statement.

The center will also recruit new faculty members and offer scholarships and fellowships for students.

At the quantum workshop, which will run through Wednesday, participants were invited to try out the abilities of a quantum computer developed by IBM. The computing capabilities were on an IBM cloud, through which participants connected using a regular computer, a spokeswoman for TAU explained.

Illustrative image of a blue glowing Quantum comuter (sakkmesterke; iStock by Getty Images)

“We are joining numerous companies and institutions in Israel and worldwide who have identified the enormous potential of quantum technology and taken up the challenge,” said Prof. Ady Arie, of the School of Electrical Engineering, one of the workshop’s organizers. “In recent years our understanding of quantum science has been significantly expanded, leading to an enhanced ability to control quantum systems and processes. Researchers around the globe are looking for ways to harness quantum states to a range of applications that will completely transform technology as we know it.”

According to Arie, quantum computers will rapidly perform tasks that a digital computer could never complete; quantum communication and information security will be totally impervious to unauthorized access; quantum sensors will enable accurate and sensitive measurement of magnetic and electric fields, time and frequency; and quantum materials with unique properties will alter the entire industries, from security and aviation to manufacturing and medicine. “This is only the beginning,” Arie said.

Last year, the Defense Ministry and the Israel Science Foundation set up a new NIS 100 million ($27 million) fund over five years to boost the study of quantum technologies and develop the research infrastructure necessary to boost Israel’s global position in the growing field.

In 2017, Bar-Ilan University said it was positioning itself to be a national leader in the field of quantum science, and announced the planned opening of a center for research and development of quantum technology.

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