More innovation, a skilled workforce: The promise in India’s National Quantum Mission

Source: The post is based on the article “More innovation, a skilled workforce: The promise in India’s National Quantum Mission” published in the Indian Express on 19th May 2023.

Syllabus: GS – 3: Indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

Relevance: About India’s National Quantum Mission.

News: The Union Cabinet has recently approved the ₹6,003 crore National Quantum Mission (NQM).

What is Quantum computing technology?

Must read: Quantum computing technology and associated applications – Explained, pointwise

What is India’s National Quantum Mission(NQM)?

Must read: Cabinet approves National Quantum Mission to scale-up scientific & industrial R&D for quantum technologies

What is the significance of India’s National Quantum Mission?

Investments in quantum materials and devices promise far more dividends. Such as,

Generate a cadre of the highly skilled workforce: As India gears to become the world’s third-largest economy by 2027, a strongly networked material infrastructure in the country will be crucial. This will cater to not just quantum technologies but also other major scientific megaprojects.

The concept of “quantum devices”: New paradigms of ultrafast transistors and optoelectronic components, as well as non-volatile memory and sensing devices, are becoming enabling vehicles for quantum applications.

Research on new architectures to incorporate quantum materials into functional units has led to the concept of quantum devices.

Develop new or upgrading current methods: Increasing investments in innovation, quantum materials, and manpower generation will lead to precise synthesis, scalable yield, and stable performance of quantum technologies.

Streamline the material and device requirements for the core quantum technology: By a) building infrastructure for new materials and devices with in-house R&D, b) synergising the diverse and geographically distributed material workforce in India to achieve mission deliverables, and c) ensuring efficient resource utilisation as well as minimising redundancy and duplication will streamline the material and device requirements.

What are the challenges faced by the NQM?

Fewer firms in tech manufacturing: Currently nearly 12% of start-ups are deep tech-related — this represents a nearly 35 times increase between 2016 and 2019. However, less than 3% of these involve manufacturing and/or materials.

India does not have enough infrastructure: India does not have enough infrastructure that can support the entire chain of operation from working out the proof-of-principle to developing working prototypes.

Fewer and more scattered R&D community: In 2018, India had 253 full-time equivalent researchers per million of its population. This is about 11% of the researcher density of Italy. Further, this workforce is also distributed across the country.

Material/device challenge: The material/device challenge in quantum technologies is unique because it often demands manipulation of the quantum state of an electron or atom with much more control, like three-dimensional systems, that contain billions of atoms.

Read more: Quantum Computing: Uses, Challenges and India’s Initiatives – Explained, pointwise  

What should be done to enhance India’s National Quantum Mission?

The research will be required to develop low-loss materials for superconducting quantum electronics this will preserve quantum information over a long period and much more.

Leverage the evolving scientific infrastructure: Capacity building in the past two decades under national initiatives, such as the Nano Mission and National Supercomputing Mission, has enabled a five-fold increase in research publications in this area between 2011 and 2019.

Strategic recruitment: India needs to devolve strategies to integrate the initiatives of the demographically scattered human resources. Further, the NQM’s goal-oriented multi-institutional consortia will demand strategic recruitment of new talent, synergistic multi-institutional collaboration and political will to ease bureaucratic norms and prevent delays in infrastructure building.

India needs to create a well-balanced R&D ecosystem where material research for near-term goals and applications needs to coexist and collaborate with more fundamental and futuristic objectives.

Through timely investment and efficient management, India can emerge a global leader in the Quantum technology.

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