Research and development on quantum computing technology have been actively carried out in India for a number of years. In an effort to support the growth of India’s quantum computing, the government has established several initiatives to support its development.
India’s Government Position
One of the major initiatives is the Quantum Computing Applications Lab (QCAL), which was launched by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) in collaboration with AWS. QCAL aims to accelerate the adoption of quantum computing in India by providing access to quantum computers, tools, and resources to researchers and developers.
The National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications (NM-QTA) was launched in 2020 with the goal of creating a strong quantum technology ecosystem in India. Over the next few years, it will cost Rs. 8,000 crores ($ 1.2 billion) and be implemented by the Department of Science and Technology. Under the Prime Minister’s Science and Technology Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC), Quantum Technologies & Applications is one of 9 missions of national importance. The program contributes to scientific research for India’s sustainable development through the office of the Principal Scientific Advisor.
The Quantum Measurement and Control Laboratory (QuMaC) studies quantum phenomena in superconducting circuits. Nanofabricated electrical circuits are engineered to behave as quantized “artificial atoms.”The two levels can be combined to form a quantum bit (qubit) that stores and processes information. Using these qubits, one can build powerful computing machines capable of solving certain mathematical problems exponentially faster. The Lab aims to develop and control such quantum systems by addressing the fundamental challenges.
Several universities and research institutions in India are also actively involved in quantum computing research. A quantum computing centre at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore focuses on quantum algorithms, quantum information theory, and quantum error correction.
Other institutions such as the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras and the Harish-Chandra Research Institute (HRI) in Allahabad also have active research programs in quantum computing.
Aside from research, India is also building a quantum computing workforce. Many Indian government programs are geared towards training students and researchers in quantum computing, including the National Mission for Quantum Frontier.
Large Indian corporations invested in quantum include information technology services and consulting company TCS — it offers a quantum computing internship program that has been offered by the company in partnership with IIT Tirupati.
Another is Infosys, which has launched ‘Infosys Quantum Living Labs’ for its clients who are interested in exploring quantum computing use cases.
Tel Aviv University has partnered with Wipro, a corporation that provides information technology, consulting and business process services, to strengthen Indo-Israeli scientific collaborations on quantum science and technology.
In order to speed up fundamental and applied research in quantum computing, Mphasis — an applied technology services company based in Bangalore — has partnered with IIT Madras to fund startups, develop talent, and provide scholarships.
HCL Technologies has collaborated with Sydney Quantum Academy. Through this partnership, the two hope to provide students with quantum technology education and R&D opportunities.
Smaller players are also in on the game too, as India is well represented here, with a handful of startups busy working on their own IP in quantum tech.
In addition to multidisciplinary optimization, BosonQ Psi develops quantum computing software solutions including computational fluid dynamics, computational structural dynamics, computational heat transfer, and computational aeroacoustics. Founded in 2020 and based in Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, the company’s solutions are set to help in the development of a wide range of applications that include aerospace, automotive, power generation, chemical manufacturing, polymer processing, petroleum exploration, medicine, meteorology, and astrophysics.
A female-founded company, Qkrishi provides quantum models, algorithms and kernels for a wide range of industries. The Birla Institute of Management Technology has also partnered with them to create a first-of-its-kind Quantum Computing course that integrates business and technical elements.
As a quantum cyber-security company based in Bangalore, QuNu Labs was founded in 2016. A basic QKD system based on Differential Phase Shift Protocol is their first product, following four years of initial research and incubation at IIT Madras.
Key People for India’s Quantum Computing
With a huge population and many elite technical universities to choose from, it was difficult to “pick” certain individuals who are influencing quantum computing in India, but we managed to select two who are notable in the sector.
Although not directly working in quantum, Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, has been a strong advocate for quantum computing research in the country. A chemical engineer by trade, Sharma completed his master’s degree at Pennsylvania State University in 1984, before going on to earn his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University at Buffalo.
In 2021, Sharma said that in order for India to remain competitive and cooperate with its partners, the country must harness the potential of quantum technology and its applications.
Another important person who is pushing for India to take the lead in quantum technology is Ujjwal Sen. Sen has worked on several topics in quantum information theory, including quantum communication and quantum cryptography at the Harish-Chandra Research Institute in Allahabad and his main research interests are in quantum information and computation, as well as their interface with many-body physics.
Sen obtained his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Gdansk, Poland, where he specialized in quantum information, quantum optics and the foundations of quantum mechanics.
Overall, India is taking significant steps towards establishing itself as a leading player in the global quantum computing industry. With the right support and investment, India has the potential to become a major hub for quantum computing research and development.
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Featured image: Markéta Šlehoferová from Pixabay