Three applications of quantum technology hold the most promise for DOD: quantum sensing, quantum computers, and quantum communications
Quantum technology translates the principles of quantum physics into technological applications. In general, quantum technology has not yet reached maturity; however, it could hold significant implications for the future of military sensing, encryption, and communications, as well as for congressional oversight, authorizations, and appropriations.
Key Concepts in Quantum Technology
Quantum applications rely on a number of key concepts, including superposition, quantum bits (qubits), and entanglement. Superposition refers to the ability of quantum systems to exist in two or more states simultaneously. A qubit is a computing unit that leverages the principle of superposition to encode information. (A classical computer encodes information in bits that can represent binary states of either 0 or 1, whereas a quantum computer encodes information in qubits, each of which can represent 0, 1, or a combination of 0 and 1 at the same time. Thus, the power of a quantum computer increases exponentially with the addition of each qubit.)
Entanglement is defined by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) as a property in which “two or more quantum objects in a system can be intrinsically linked such that measurement of one dictates the possible measurement outcomes for another, regardless of how far apart the two objects are.” Entanglement underpins a number of potential military applications of quantum technology. Both superposition and entanglement are, however, difficult to sustain due to the fragility of quantum states, which can be disrupted by minute movements, changes in temperature, or other environmental factors.