On 4 October, the Nobel Prize Committee announced the award of the 2022 Physics Prize to French physicist Alain Aspect, American physicist John F. Clauser, and Austrian physicist Anton Zeilinger for their experiments with entangled photons that proved Bell's inequality does not hold, and in doing so, pioneered the science of quantum information.
Alain Aspect (Left), John F. Clauser (Mid), Anton Zeilinger (Right)
Image source: Nobel Prize official website
Their experiments laid the foundation for the current revolution in quantum technology and really pushed quantum mechanics from theory to application, as mentioned in the official evaluation. This is the first time that a Nobel Prize has been awarded to quantum information science.
Quantum Technology Changing the World
Born in the early 20th century, quantum mechanics is one of the most significant scientific revolutions in human history. It has opened the door to the microscopic world for mankind, overturned the perspective of human cognition of the world, and given rise to a series of major technological inventions such as semiconductors, lasers, nuclear energy, superconductivity, nuclear magnetic resonance, and satellite navigation, which have fundamentally changed the way of life and the level of social development of mankind.
In the 1990s, with the tremendous progress in quantum regulation technology, mankind was able to actively and precisely manipulate the quantum state of microscopic particles, thus ushering in a breakthrough in quantum information technology. These include quantum secrecy communication technology to ensure information security, quantum computing technology to increase the speed of computing, and quantum precision measurement technology to improve the accuracy of measurement.
Schematic diagram of quantum entanglement.
Image source: Nobel Prize website
Quantum Information Science, the Second Quantum Revolution
The rapid development of quantum information technology, represented by quantum precision measurement, quantum computing, and quantum confidential communication, has also been described as the "second quantum revolution" and is leading the way to a new round of technological revolution and industrial change.
Quantum precision measurement is one of the most important applications of quantum information science. Thanks to the quantum effect, quantum precision measurement can provide higher measurement sensitivity and accuracy than existing technologies in areas such as time, gravity, magnetic field, imaging, and remote sensing. It will play an important role in a wide range of fields such as next-generation time references, precision navigation, measurement of fundamental physical constants, particle detection, nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, remote target identification, global terrain mapping, and the inductive detection of gravitational waves or dark matter.
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Quantum computing is quantum parallel computing using principles such as quantum superposition and interference. It can provide exponential acceleration relative to classical computing on specific problems, providing solutions to large-scale computing challenges such as classical code-breaking, big data searches, and artificial intelligence.
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The most typical applications are quantum key distribution and quantum invisible transmission. Quantum-secure communication is a communication method with strictly proven security. Based on the basic principles of quantum mechanics, eavesdroppers are unable to both peek and leave traces during quantum key transmission, which guarantees the security of key transmission.