China’s Father of Quantum Superpower

Quantum computers
A zooming in on a wafer of D-Wave Quantum Computers. (Photo: Steve Jurvetson / Wikimedia Commons)

Jian-Wei Pan, famous in China as the "father of quantum", spearhead drive for global dominance in Technologies that could alter the trend in industries. Micius, a Chinese satellite, initiated the first uninterruptible video conference between two distant locations, Vienna and Beijing.

The satellite is roaming the earth at 18, 000 miles per hour. While travelling, the satellite sent a small data packet to a ground station located in Xinglong. The county is kilometers away to the northeast of Beijing. While passing over Austria about an hour later, the satellite again transmitted another data packet to another station near the city of Graz. The packets were encrypted to secure the content during the transmission.

The transmission however is special since it was encoded in photons in a far complicated quantum state. Any attempt of bypassing the code might collapse the photons state. Attempting to interfere with the transmission means destroying the content of the packets. The hacker is also traceable while trying to intercept the sending of the packets. This means that the codes used in sending the packets were more advanced than the binary codes that are classically used.

The video encryption used in the video conference is conventional. However, since quantum keys are required for decryption, the transmission is secured. It is now the, historically, the pioneer quantum-encrypted intercontinental video link.

Mr. Pan is a professor at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), also referred as "China's Caltech". The professor is 48 years old and he is known to have produced lots of discoveries that brought China into its scientific stardom. The contributions of Mr. Pan received acknowledgements and awards from Chinese President Xi Jin Ping. He famous to Chinese local media as "the father of quantum."

The use of quantum in communications and computations is still in its raw form. It is, however, one of the priority "megaprojects" of China by 2030. The Chinese government wants breakthroughs as they see great possibilities in leading the quantum era in similar manner to the United States dominance during the start of computing and information revolution in which they started.

Mr. Pan is an important factor in the realization of China's goals. During an interview with MIT Technology Review, Mr. Pan said that China has been the follower and the learner at the birth of modern information science and, with quantum breakthroughs, China now have a chance to be a leader.

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