Ben-Gurion University will pursue joint research and development programs to advance quantum technology together with the Ministry of Defense, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy, as well as with the high-tech sector in Israel and around the world.
Quantum technology leverages 100-year-old quantum theory developed into specific applications, such as high-precision atomic clocks; gravitational and magnetic sensors; and navigation systems, as well secure communication systems and quantum computers, expected to outperform traditional computers. This new interdisciplinary field involves researchers in computer science, electrical, optical and material engineering, physics, chemistry, nanotechnology, and mathematics.
Several BGU researchers have advanced expertise in this emerging field and have established research relationships with several defense bodies, as well as the high-tech industry such as Accubeat Ltd, and several BGU faculty have already delivered a variety of technology prototypes.
Currently, defense organizations are the driving force behind the quantum technology field, but many civilian applications will eventually be developed, including drug engineering, medical imaging (e.g. of the brain), privacy, water and mineral detection, as well as an improved electrical grid.
“Quantum theory includes a very strange set of rules and its quirkiness will result in revolutionary quantum technology with vastly different capabilities than what we are used to," says Prof. Ron Folman (pictured above), incumbent of the Ruth Flinkman-Marandy and Ben Marandy Chair in Quantum Physics and Nanotechnolog and the head of BGU's Atom Chip Laboratory. “We are only starting to understand the full scope of possible applications. While many of the above applications are already being developed in the industry in one form or another, other applications are still a distant dream. For example, in the far future we may even see quantum radar or a quantum-based banking system with quantum currency."
With BGU's expertise in quantum science and technology, the University is building cutting edge quantum devices. For example, BGU is home to Israel's only dark matter detector, partly funded by a joint grant from the American National Science Foundation and the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation. BGU is also developing what is poised to become Israel's most accurate clock, now in advanced stages of construction, which is partly funded by the European Union. “This clock, one of only a few dozens in the world, is so accurate that if it would have been turned on at the time of the big bang about 15 billion years ago, it would have now had an error of much less than one second," Folman says. “Such atomic clocks are the most accurate machines ever built by human kind, and they are expected to not only give rise to a more stable world time, but to also put to the test our most fundamental theories of nature."