Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), Israel, has announced the pursuit of joint research and development programs to advance quantum technology together with the Israel Ministry of Defense, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) and the U.S. Navy (USN), as well as the high-tech industry in Israel and around the world.
Quantum technology leverages 100-year-old quantum theory developed into specific applications, such as high-precision atomic clocks; gravitational and magnetic sensors; and navigation systems, as well secure communication systems and quantum computers, expected to outperform traditional computers. This new interdisciplinary field involves researchers in computer science, electrical, optical and material engineering, physics, chemistry, nanotechnology, and mathematics.
Ben-Gurion University has unique and advanced expertise in this fast-emerging field and is establishing research relationships with different defense organizations as well as the high-tech industry, such as Accubeat Ltd. BGU researchers have already delivered several prototypes of various technologies to these companies and defense organizations.
Defense organizations are currently driving the quantum technology field, but many civilian applications will eventually be developed. This may include drug engineering, medical imaging (e.g. of the brain), privacy, water and mineral detection, as well as an improved electrical grid.
With BGU’s expertise in quantum science and technology, the University is building cutting edge quantum devices. For example, BGU is home to Israel’s only dark matter detector, partly funded by a joint grant from the American National Science Foundation and the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation. BGU is also developing what is poised to become Israel’s most accurate clock, now in advanced stages of construction, which is partly funded by the European Union.
Professor Ron Folman, the Ruth Flinkman-Marandy and Ben Marandy Chair in Quantum Physics and Nanotechnology, head of the BGU Atom Chip Laboratory, said that quantum theory includes a very strange set of rules and its quirkiness will result in revolutionary quantum technology with vastly different capabilities than what we are used to — the full scope of possible applications is now only starting to be understood. While many of the aforementioned applications are already being developed in the industry in one form or another, other applications remain a distant dream. For example, in the far future, quantum radar or a quantum-based banking system with quantum currency might even be seen. This clock, one of only a few dozens in the world, is so accurate that if it would have been turned on at the time of the big bang about 15 billion years ago, it would have now had an error of much less than one second,. Such atomic clocks are the most accurate machines ever built by human kind, and they are expected to give rise to a more stable world time as well as put to the test the most fundamental theories of nature.