Bar-Ilan University to set up quantum research center

Members of Bar Ilan’s QUEST Center, Prof. Avi Peer and Dr. Emanuele Dalla Torre meet in Jerusalem with the head of the European Quantum Flagship initiative, Prof. Jürgen Mlynek (Courtesy: Segev Ben Yehuda)

New facility will focus on understanding quantum entanglement and developing new technologies

By Shoshanna Solomon – April 30, 2017, Start-Up Israel

Israel’s Bar-Ilan University is positioning itself to be a national leader in the field of quantum science and will soon open a center for research and development of quantum technology.

The new center, named Quantum Entanglement in Science and Technology (QUEST), will be inaugurated on June 11-13 at a kickoff event attended by scientists from Israel, Germany, Denmark, and the US.

The QUEST center will focus on understanding the basic science associated with quantum entanglement — when two electrons or photons can be “entangled” together and hold information about each other — as well as on using theoretical knowledge to develop new and groundbreaking technology, the university said in a statement.

The center aims to host tens of researchers under the supervision of seven senior scientists, and will foster collaborations with private and public industries in Israel. Their common work is expected to pave the way to a significant advancement in quantum science and technology, with applications that include secure quantum networks, cryptography, quantum computation and biomedical sensors.

Quantum theory — or mechanics, as it is called — was discovered at the beginning of the 20th century and describes the microscopic properties of any material. Within the scientific community, this technology is considered as revolutionary as nanotechnology. The main challenge is to transform the theoretical and experimental knowledge that has been accumulated in academia into useful technology, Bar-Ilan said.

Quantum mechanics helped scientists understand the motion of the smallest stable particle, the electron, and was the basis of the first quantum revolution that the world underwent in the last century.

For instance, the quantum effect of “tunneling” determines the efficiency of the transistor, which is the key ingredient of any computer or smartphone. The laser industry is based on the quantum mechanical interaction between matter and photons, the elementary particle of light.

QUEST will address the issue of quantum entanglement and the knowledge developed in the past few years that has shown that it is possible to create entanglement at distances of hundreds, or even thousands, of kilometers. The application of quantum effects at these distances is expected to deliver the second wave of the quantum technology revolution, Bar-Ilan said.

In Israel, the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education has decided to invest tens of millions of dollars in quantum technology research in its upcoming five-year plan. The European Community is supporting the development of quantum technology through a one billion euro program called “Flagship.”