Quantum mechanics is emerging from obscurity and bringing the potential for radical new solutions in a variety of areas.
Quantum mechanics operates at the atomic and sub-atomic level and obeys rules that are complex and often counter intuitive. A growing wave of research announcements could be about to deliver a range of breakthroughs in radically different areas.
Quantum tunnelling technology has been licensed and applied to mobile phones by Samsung. It will enhance the capabilities of touch screens so that users initially can scroll faster and more effectively through games and so forth. It also opens the way for screen based signature recognition and verification because it will capture and draw on the pressure patterns of people’s signatures which are a fundamental part of verification.
The same technology is also being licensed to being a sense of touch to robots, so that they recognise where they have been touched. Such capabilities could enhance the capabilities of care robots and the use of sophisticated navigation and manipulation.
Quantum computing, although still a long way off, is also coming closer as a result of research breakthroughs at Wisconsin. It will radically alter speed and processing capabilities.
In Calgary, a research breakthrough into ‘stacking light photons’ brings the manipulation of matter at particle levels closer. The research manipulated two light photons, but proves it is possible. Its application will be in quantum computing but potentially also new forms of communication.
Spray on glass, which includes no added resins, just silica molecules added to water or ethanol, has been developed to create a 100 nanometer-thick coating, which is clear, flexible and breathable, and which can be applied to almost any surface. Its applications range from health care to agriculture. The process is secret, but is said to use quantum forces to achieve its effect.
Many familiar products already rely on the quantum properties of materials. The research, new processes and techniques, and new materials which are emerging now are beginning not just to draw on quantum properties, but actively to apply quantum mechanics and manipulate matter at new miniscule levels. We are about to witness a quantum revolution in materials, computing, communications and any areas where they can be applies.
There is a growing set of articles on different aspects of quantum mechanics on the Shaping Tomorrow site, a few of these, some of which have been used in this Trend alert, have been put into a report called Quantum, which is visible to everyone. Alternatively simply search on Quantum.