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April 04, 2024

Soon, we’ll all feel the effects of quantum sensing

Quantum sensing’s ability to measure physical change at the atomic level could break new ground in medicine, telecommunications and beyond.

In the news

Quantum sensing is not something you hear about every day—but it may enable breakthroughs in our everyday life, including in telecommunications.

This advanced sensor technology relies on quantum resources to identify, with extreme accuracy, minuscule changes in motion in the physical environment, including in electric and magnetic fields. And we do mean minuscule—the type of activity these sensors can detect is at a single-atom-sized scale.

To identify such minute movements, the technology extracts information from individual atoms (consider that achievement for a moment; in classical physics, information is extracted from huge collections of atoms). It then uses these atomic properties to measure activity in the physical world with a stunning degree of accuracy. Such activity could range from detecting trace amounts of pollutants or toxins in the air or water, to recording brain activity with wearable sensor helmets.

Quantum sensing also reduces vulnerability to the electromagnetic interference that has grown common in today’s light- and sound-based data sensors, due in large part to the sheer number of electronic devices in use.

Quantum sensing holds intriguing promise for several industries. In healthcare, there are multiple potential biomedical applications. The technology is being used to more accurately measure the universe and improve atomic clocks.

It could also bring about major advances in telecommunications; receivers based on the technology “check every box needed” for a breakthrough, experts say.

The Cognizant take

Quantum sensing devices “surpass the limits of classical sensor technology and optimize measurement precision with atomic granularity,” says Naresh Nirmal, Senior Director in CMT at Cognizant Consulting. Their development will pave the way for major changes in the communication industry, he says, from hyper-connected devices to self-healing intelligent networks.

The ability of quantum communication to leverage the principles of quantum physics will result in ultra-secure communication networks, he explains, and will lead to immediate advances in the fields of optic fiber, last-mile connectivity and satellite communication.

Meanwhile, adds Octavian Dicu, a Senior Manager in CMT Consulting, quantum sensors will enable vastly more accurate, speedy and reliable geolocation, leading to precise guidance systems in space and under water, overcoming interference from radio frequency waves.

Some of the transformative impacts Nirmal and Dicu foresee include:

  • Precise geolocation. GPS will become faster and more dependable, without environmental interference. Accuracy will be exponentially improved.

  • Device breakthroughs. Communication devices will be hyper-connected, able to seamlessly transition from one wireless network to another thanks to tremendously high signal strength and more precise measurement.

  • Intelligent networks. Self-healing will be brought to a new level as quantum sensors analyze and predict circuit failures—and take appropriate action. While it’s the accuracy of quantum sensing that will identify potential failures, it’s the power of quantum AI that will do the predicting and acting, even before bad things happen.

  • Quantum mobile. Enabled by quantum security and powerful encryption, the wireless spectrum will continue to achieve unprecedented speed and distance, removing hurdles in the move to 6G and quantum wireless.

  • Intelligent spectrum analysis. The tag team of quantum sensing and quantum AI will also enable the available spectrum to be sliced with extreme precision, overcoming the interference and technological limitations that today preclude use of portions of the spectrum by communication service providers.

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