Made Smarter: Quantum for manufacturing interviews
A series of interviews with quantum organisations working with businesses in the manufacturing industry to create innovative technologies.
Here at KTN, we are passionate about quantum technology. Over the last few weeks, we have been busy interviewing a range of quantum companies. Below we have included the highlights of each conversation that we had with the quantum organisations. These insights have helped us learn a lot about the industry and have given us lots to think about ahead of the Quantum events that we are hosting in November.
Upcoming Quantum Events
We have a variety of upcoming quantum events that are taking place in November including a Quantum Showcase event on the 5th November and a Manufacturing Made Smarter: Innovative Quantum Technology webinar event taking place on the 23rd of November. Make sure to register for these events to get even more valuable insights about quantum manufacturing technology, network with a community of quantum specialists, and discover all the funding opportunities and programmes within your sector that you can apply to. Also, many of the companies interviewed below will be presenting at these upcoming events so make sure to sign up and we’ll see you there.
In this interview, Najwa Sidqi, Knowledge Transfer Manager of Quantum Technologies at KTN met with Maria Maragkou, Senior Business Development Manager and Nicole Holzmann, Resident Quantum Chemist and Quantum Science Manager at Riverlane. Riverlane builds ground-breaking software to unleash the power of quantum computers.
What is Riverlane quantum technology?
“We are a software company and we develop the operating systems for quantum computers. We want it to be not only specific to one hardware but we are looking to make them hardware agnostic. Our mission is to make quantum computing possible sooner. Working across the software stack, we are going from developing the software tools to control the various kinds of qubits technologies, all the way to developing and implementing quantum algorithms. We are also looking into error correction and mitigation techniques, as well as investigating the types of applications and problems that can be solved with the help of quantum computers. We currently focus on developing methods to solve chemical problems on a quantum computer. This is maybe too big of a task for the hardware at this stage, but we are looking at ways and methods of making the most of the current available technology”, says Nicole Holzmann.
How will your quantum technology advance manufacturing?
“Quantum computing can aid in general, all the processes around designing materials and drugs. For example, screening, designing, selecting and then testing materials is a very long process and is not very efficient. We currently think of quantum computing in two ways. One way would be to go beyond the classical limitations and therefore beyond classical computing. The modelling can be improved in the process itself. For example, we can think of designing materials with specific properties or production processes, where quantum can make the optimisation cycle faster, even done dynamically. The second way is quantum computing protocols where quantum can take us beyond the traditional trial and error process which is currently the main way of designing materials and drugs; and quantum computers can significantly improve this approach. We are trying to build an operating system that will make quantum computers a reality faster. This can accelerate quantum hardware development and then also improve system performance and processes”, says Maria Maragkou.
What sectors are you currently focusing on?
“We are mainly focusing on the chemistry sector which includes different problems. For example, we collaborate with customers in the space of drug design. We are looking to help solve problems that are difficult on classical computers. We are also looking at the energy sector, materials and battery design”, says Nicole Holzmann.
What role will Riverlane play in sustainability as well as net-zero using quantum?
“ For sustainability, we need to look for example at processes to produce fertilisers more efficiently, for instance with less CO2 emission. We also need to develop new ways to do that and how to capture CO2. We may have new battery materials with higher energy density. Taking batteries as an example, they are very complicated chemical systems and what you need to take into account is electrons. Electrons are what makes the battery run. But describing electrons with a classical computer is very difficult. It is best to describe a quantum system with a quantum computer and that is exactly why chemistry is one of the areas where we think quantum computing will have a big impact”, confirms Nicole Holzmann. Maria Maragkou also adds that quantum computing can improve the trial and error process which is very long and not very effective. Systems can be modelled better and complicated equations could be solved. Maria also sees that quantum computing can be implemented alongside classical methods and other technologies such as machine learning, to create new models and produce data. Hard sustainability problems can only be solved with a combination of these technologies.
How is Riverlane involved in the pharmaceutical industry?
Riverlane recently announced their latest collaboration with the world leading fragment-based drug discovery company Astex, to demonstrate the future potential of quantum chemistry. Nicole Holzmann confirms this collaboration is about feasibility studies with two components. The first consists of the study of the key structure, a covalent drug system, where classical computers and methods in classical drug design fail to find a solution. The other component Riverlane is looking at is how to improve the runs in the hardware by looking into error mitigation, with two teams working on the chemistry and the error mitigation aspects. One of the big topics in quantum computing is persisting problems with coherence and errors induced by quantum computing. Riverlane is developing new algorithms to address these problems. They hope these new algorithms will reduce the error by three times and provide 44 times of runtime improvement.
What quantum technology achievement are you most proud of now and what are you excited about in the future?
“It is a really exciting thing seeing our work coming to life and seeing the software that we’re producing actually controlling the qubit. The first demos that we have reported with hardware companies were very exciting for us internally. We also have another project going on with various hardware companies about developing a costing engine that can estimate the resources needed to run algorithms on quantum computers”, says Maria. Nicole says Riverlane is also working closely with hardware businesses and enterprise customers bringing the two parties closer and providing a common language between the two.”
To view the full Riverlane interview recording, please click here.
Quantum Dice Interview
Who are Quantum Dice?
“Quantum Dice is a new spinout from the University of Oxford’s Department of Physics. We are developing the world’s first compact completely embedded self-certified Quantum Random Number Generator.”
How did you found Quantum Dice and why?
“I started Quantum Dice with my co-founders through Oxford’s Student Entrepreneurs Programme as we recognised the current gap in the market for a self- certifying, true Quantum Random Number Generator that can both detect and adjust to physical changes of the hardware, hence mitigating adverse attacks from malicious third parties and guaranteeing a verifiably secure source of true random numbers. This has useful real world applications in securing data centres, Internet of Things devices (IoT) or as the key-generator in satellite quantum communication systems such as Quantum Key Distribution.”
What is quantum random number generation and why is it relevant to cybersecurity?
“Quantum random number generation uses laser source technology to generate a stream of truly random numbers which then act as seeds for both classical and quantum encryption protocols. This can be used to help encrypt valuable and sensitive business/personal data and is vital for the future of cybersecurity especially given the moment of developments in computing power.”
What is quantum for cybersecurity?
“Quantum cybersecurity technology keeps our digital society safe. Whether for business or personal use, it’s important to have trusted telecommunication networks and localised security hardware for IoT devices that can keep data secure as it is generated, transmitted and stored across the world. Cisco estimates that there will be 25.4 billion IoT devices connected worldwide by 2025 and it is important that the right security infrastructure is in place to ensure digital security. Quantum-enabled cybersecurity is unique in offering long-term cyber and data security.”
What sectors is Quantum Dice focusing on?
“Quantum Dice is focusing on hardware encryption manufacturers, such as those manufacturing Hardware Security Modules (HSMs), as QRNGs can significantly improve the long-term effectiveness of their products alongside benefiting the wider manufacturing community. QRNGs also has a positive and impactful role in the development of the next generation of communications infrastructure, such as in securing satellite communication capabilities through satellite Quantum Key Distribution payload technologies.”
What manufacturing partners are you looking to establish in the future?
“Quantum Dice is actively looking to work with as many hardware encryption manufacturers throughout the product supply chain. We are looking to partner with developers of both classical and quantum-enabled hardware encryption systems – please do get in touch if you are interested in implementing our trusted self-certifying QRNG technology into your manufacturing business!”
To view the full Quantum Dice interview recording, please click here.
Fraunhofer CAP Interview
What does Fraunhofer CAP do?
“Fraunhofer Centre for Applied Photonics, UK, is a world-leading centre in the field of applied photonics research and development. I work at Fraunhofer CAP in Glasgow, Scotland. We specialise in providing industry R&D for applied photonics for lights, sensors and lasers. The business is linked to the University of Strathclyde and most of our development work is centred around the development of proof of concept systems. Also, many people would be interested to know that we receive project funding from the UK National Quantum Programme core funding, from the Scottish Government and direct contracts with industry.”
How has your quantum technology knowledge enabled businesses and universities to successfully launch several quantum products?
“The quantum industry heavily involves the use of lasers and photonics. These various use cases for laser sources helped the organisation move into quantum technology and enabled us to work with companies ranging from startups to multinational corporations. A few examples of a technology we have worked on includes working with Photon Force on applications which require single-photon detection, microchip scale quantum devices which utilise advanced semiconductor technology.”
How will these quantum technologies impact the manufacturing industry?
“Quantum technologies in manufacturing are becoming an increasing trend that will help solve advanced challenges in the future. For example, sensing projects will help detect small magnetic fields that could help us develop improved battery technologies, which is a hugely commercial area, especially with the renewable energy and electric cars increased adoption due to popular brands releasing consumer technology. Some of these technological breakthroughs are only possible thanks to quantum technology.”
“Quantum is also important in robotics manufacturing as robots need to be able to sense their surrounding environment, perhaps in challenging conditions as well as “seeing through the invisible” in order to sense characteristics or processes which are otherwise impossible.”
How have you collaborated with manufacturers to launch quantum devices?
“We worked with a manufacturer, Alter Technology, to develop a compact laser source with size, weight and power characteristics enabling the deployment of more complex systems for real world applications. We also found that the UK National Quantum Programme helped us develop real-world quantum products to be released to the market. For example, one use case we are currently focusing on as a partner in a wider consortium is the use of quantum sensing in the identification of buried infrastructure as an avoidance technology to prevent drilling into underground pipes and infrastructure as current methods of drilling underground can depend on unreliable and out of date map which is much riskier.”
Would you like to collaborate with more manufacturing businesses?
“Fraunhofer CAP wants to expand the number of partners that we work with. If you have a measurement challenge, get in touch to see how quantum technology can help. For example, we can help those in the manufacturing, metrology, aerospace, defence and security, pharmaceutical, agritech, food and drink or foundation industries. Quantum technology will become a valuable part of a toolbox for manufacturing companies in the future and the UK National Quantum Programme will help boost the development of practical applications in the industry and the quantum R&D UK academic sector in addition to supporting technology hubs and transformative Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs) such as Fraunhofer CAP to ensure that the UK is in one of the best positions throughout the world to advance quantum technology in the future.”
To view the full Fraunhofer CAP interview recording, please click here.
Esperanza Cuenca-Gomez Interview
Najwa Sidqi, Knowledge Transfer Manager of Quantum Technologies at KTN spoke with Esperanza Cuenca-Gomez, Head of Change Management at Quantum Strategy Institute and Processes and Change Management at a leading financial institution.
Why are you interested in quantum technologies?
“Having worked in finance, business management and industrial engineering, I enjoy exploring how quantum can solve some of the world’s challenges.”
What is processes and change management and why is it important in the long term quantum advancement?
“Processes and change management have to do with the steps required to upgrade a process and achieve new technological innovation whilst simultaneously delivering impactful change. Digital innovation has massively affected banking and consumer finance as interaction with consumers has changed considerably. Customers have become more autonomous in completing financial actions so, therefore, we need to reimagine and transform our internal operations to meet new and future consumer needs whilst keeping hybrid systems. When I say hybrid systems I mean keeping the face-to-face interactions that customers value when making a significant financial decision, for example, applying for a mortgage. In conclusion, emerging technologies redefine what quantum can do for the financial sector and how we can use it to enhance our financial services in the future.”
How can quantum technologies help solve the challenges faced in the finance industry?
“I think quantum technologies can contribute to solutions to challenges in the financial sector in multiple ways such as product optimisation, financial market simulation and pattern identification through quantum machine learning. Possible use cases of quantum machine learning include fraud detection and preventing money laundering. Another interesting use case is ultra-secure communications using quantum technologies.”
What direction do you see the future quantum technology going and what impact will it have on finance and consumer banking?
“Quantum technology is likely going to scale as large technology companies focused on quantum such as Google and IBM continue to make advancements. The power and reliability of hardware are of interest to a wide range of industries and, of course, the financial sector is no exemption. Advancements in quantum algorithms will be useful too. I find J.P. Morgan quantum roadmap and approach very interesting. Goldman Sachs is also following a very appealing path I would say.
Finally, it looks like quantum portfolio optimisation could be one of the first use cases to be adopted by financial institutions.”
Is the finance industry concerned about the potential security threats of quantum technology?
“Well, I actually prefer to talk about opportunities instead of threats. I see quantum as more of an interesting opportunity that will help improve the consumer finance industry. Those institutions and organizations that are always learning more and working with other banks and financial institutions to ensure these quantum technologies are taken advantage of in a variety of ways will likely have a competitive advantage.”
Are there any recent quantum announcements that you are excited about?
“I’m particularly interested in the work of very prominent professors from a number of universities, and especially MIT professor William Oliver, who is currently working on building a quantum engineering undergraduate program. This is encouraging because it is crucial to develop new talent and, so, avoid potential talent shortages in the quantum industry. Hopefully, more university institutions will integrate quantum into their academic programmes and this will help to support the quantum industry in the long term.”
To view the full Esperanza Cuenca-Gomez interview recording, please click here.
In this interview Najwa Sidqi, Knowledge Transfer Manager of Quantum Technologies at KTN had a detailed conversation with Christopher Payne-Dwyer, head of business development of the QuantIC hub (https://www.quantic.ac.uk/, email@example.com).
What is the QuantIC hub and what is it trying to achieve?
“At the turn of the 20th Century, science saw an explosion of discovery, most notably in the birth of quantum physics. Over the coming decades, scientists unravelled ever more of this quantum puzzle, culminating in the great support of many of the devices we see around us today. The computer, the mobile phone, the internet, GPS. These symbolise the achievements of the first quantum revolution. So currently the world is on route for a second quantum revolution that will usher in a series of technologies unlike what we’ve seen before. QuantIC, which is the UK’s hub for Quantum Enhanced Imaging, is on a mission to help forge the UK position as a global leader in the realisation of these technologies. In our specific case, we are realising the fantastic application of Quantum Imaging. The UK has so far invested heavily towards what will be a multi-billion pounds in quantum industry, with its flagship National Quantum Technology Programme, of which QuantIC is proudly part of.”
What is quantum imaging and what technical challenges is it overcoming in comparison to other imaging technologies?
“Quantum Imaging looks at how to exploit the unique behaviour of quantum particles. For us, that means the photon, a single particle of light. Conventional camera systems have seen amazing growth over the few past decades, but they typically operate under common principles, in environments with relatively high amounts of often visible light and require an unobstructed line of sight, and operate on a silicon platform. Quantum imaging approaches the development of this space very differently. While we can continue to further the capabilities of these cameras, we can explore mechanisms to manipulate the light itself or operate at wavelengths never explored previously. The better we understand the quantum properties of light, and how to take advantage of these features, the more that can be done with every photon, every pixel collected.”
What are the key areas of applications to QuantIC research and what industries can benefit from it?
“One of the marvellous features of QuantIC’s research is its capacity to dovetail into a myriad of existing workstreams as well as form free-standing applications. This allows QuantIC to both support established supply chains and introduces entirely new ecosystems simultaneously. A great example of this is QuantIC’s work in Single-Photon Avalanche Diodes, commonly referred to as SPADs. Single-Photon Avalanche Diode is a detector format that enables extremely sensitive measurements of light irradiance and timing. These devices are so sensitive that, as suggestive of the name, one can begin to observe the influence of just a single photon. Now when engineers look at solutions using camera systems, instead of considering general characteristics of light, as if one were immersed in an ocean trying to read the waves, we can peer deeper into every droplet of light, dramatically expanding our ways to ‘see’ solutions. So, highlighting some examples already demonstrated within QuantIC’s portfolio that dovetail into existing supply chains, we see potential in biomedical imaging where SPADs can provide cancer cell research better tools to diagnose patients or support the development of new treatments. We see SPADs providing greater faster response times for sensors in automotive vehicles, improving safety features for the next generation of the driver and self-drive products. Finally, we see those entirely new, free-standing applications, such as imaging around corners or through murky and turbulent water. There is no shortage of industries that Quantum Imaging cannot benefit from, and we fully expect to see these breakthroughs emerge on all fronts in the coming years.”
How can quantum imaging and advanced manufacturing create innovative, relevant products in the future?
“Images tell a thousand words, and that value of imaging is undoubtedly met in manufacturing. Imaging allows manufacturers to sort raw materials and verify supply chain quality processes, streamlining and de-risking workflows. During processing, in-line monitoring offers rapid parameter control to increase tolerances and reduce waste. Inspection after manufacture ensures a high-quality service, leading to repeat business and customer satisfaction. Quantum imaging provides avenues for improving all these areas and many more.”
Do you welcome industrial collaborations and how can businesses access your expertise?
“Collaboration is a fundamental aspect of QuantIC’s strategic approach. The technologies explored within our core programme have applications impacting far wider than a single organisation, so it is essential to encourage consortiums that stretch the entire breadth of a sector. QuantIC has already formed collaboration relationships in a series of high-value markets including Transport, Space, Climate Change, Healthcare, Defence & Security. We welcome industries wishing to explore quantum imaging technologies from any stage of development or timescale. The most recognised engagement for the industry is through our Industry Partnership Fund. This fund, which is open all year-round to both individual parties and consortiums, provides up to £2m of match funding to mature quantum technologies for industrial applications. The Partnership Fund is a low-risked, low-cost, and low-resource mechanism for industry to explore the very edge of Quantum technology utilising the UK’s world leading research platforms. QuantIC also pushes above and beyond, offering a respective fund and application support for industrial PhD students and KTP placements in Quantum technologies. These schemes are helping develop the next generation of industrial engineers and scientists equipped with world-class expertise in the coming Quantum revolution, giving our partnered organisations the resilience to stay ahead of the pack on both a domestic and global level. I encourage anyone considering Quantum technologies and wishing to understand what these marvellous new technologies can do for them or wanting to better understand how their industry may be affected, to reach out to our Business Development Team or visit our website.”
How do you envisage quantum imaging 5 years from now and what impact will it have on manufacturing?
“Quantum Imaging is perhaps the most advanced domain of these new wave, revolutionary technologies emerging from the quantum space, so I suspect that these innovations will impact society very soon. We have already begun partnerships with industrial end-users, and funding research that moves outside the lab. What impact is made during this golden era of Quantum technology will be up to programmes like QuantIC, and industries’ willingness to innovate. What is clear, is that the developments made over the next 5 years will shape the groundwork for years to come, and industries that do embrace these quantum technologies, and work alongside programmes such as QuantIC will be aware, will be ahead, and will achieve new, better ways of working.”
To view the full QuantIC interview recording, please click here.
In this interview Najwa Sidqi, Knowledge Transfer Manager of Quantum Technologies at KTN had a conversation with Mirella Koleva, CEO and co-founder of Quantopticon and Gaby Slavcheva, Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of Quantopticon.
What does Quantopticon do?
“We are a software company that has developed a simulation suite, called Quantillion. This computes an optimised design blueprint for a given quantum-optical component an order of magnitude faster and more affordably than existing design approaches, like classical electromagnetic solvers complemented with open-source quantum optics toolboxes. The type of components we can optimise include single-photon sources, qubits, optical quantum memories and mechanisms for quantum state control.”
How does the manufacturing industry benefit from quantum and optical devices simulation?
“Traditionally, quantum-optical components are designed and optimised in a two-stage process. First, classical multiphysics software, like Lumerical, and quantum freeware, like QuTiP, are typically used to generate a blueprint for the device. However, since they employ physical models that are incomplete and inadequate for this purpose, these provide poor predictions of the outcome. Consequently, design outputs are far from optimised and, rather, serve as a rough starting point for an iterative improvement process that follows. In the second stage of the process, multiple cycles of building, testing and iterating physical prototypes through a trial-and-error approach eventually result in a device that just meets the required standard. This laborious optimisation process is slow and expensive.”
“In contrast, Quantillion implements an accurate, patent-pending quantum-mechanical model that describes the device faithfully and fully. By conducting a parallelised parameter sweep, Quantillion singles out the parameter set that corresponds to a top-performing, high-quality device. With its ‘right first time’ approach, Quantillion completely removes the need to carry out the repetitive experiments mentioned above and achieves true component optimisation. Quantillion shortens the timeline to an optimised component from 26 to 2 weeks, thereby saving up to 90% of the budget typically allocated to prototyping. Quantillion frees up the time, money and human resources of quantum-optical hardware developers enabling them to be more productive, innovate more rapidly, and get their product to market sooner.”
“The industries most likely to benefit from our quantum simulations are quantum cryptography, quantum computing – specifically quantum photonic computing which is one of the most promising physical implementations of quantum computing, also the semiconductor laser industry.”
What does your work with the European Space Agency involve?
“Under this project, we will be collaborating with the University of Oxford and the Technical University of Munich. These universities are going to work with us to manufacture the device and we will provide the specialities in simulating and producing an optimised design blueprint for the technology. Together, we are going to develop a true single-photon source based on semiconductor quantum dots embedded in optical cavities. These will have exceptionally high purity and indistinguishability and will be employed in quantum key distribution protocols for satellite secure quantum communications.”
How does your business benefit from participating in accelerator programmes?
“We are very pleased to have been accepted on both the Duality and the CDL accelerator programmes which are excellent accelerators. They will be an invaluable help in steering our business through the difficult pre-revenue period. Through them, will receive many benefits, including $50,000 of non-dilutive funding, MBA students who will fine-tune our business model and carry out in-depth market research to ensure our product is delivered to customers optimally, and assistance with getting our company investor-ready with useful access to mentors.”
What quantum achievement are you most proud of?
“I am proud of taking part in the development of the pioneering quantum-enabled methodology at the heart of Quantillion. This original theory was developed from scratch by Gaby, Quantopticon’s Chief Scientific Officer. I then generalised the theory to apply to quantum systems of an arbitrary number of discrete energy levels, so as a result, Quantillion is now able to describe any quantum system of interest. The process of developing this advanced technology required lots of hard work and ideas.”
What do you want your business to achieve over the next five years?
“In the next five years, we intend to considerably extend Quantillion’s library of photonic structures, by adding photonic crystals, bull’s-eye cavities and other technologically interesting and popular nanophotonic structures. Our ultimate goal is to develop a comprehensive suite for modelling quantum-photonic integrated circuits.”
To view the full Quantopticon interview recording, please click here.
More Information about quantum
Make sure to arrange a meeting to discuss quantum technologies with Najwa Sidqi, our Knowledge Transfer Manager for Quantum Technologies.