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Now is the time for Lithuania to jump on the quantum technology train

2024 / 03 / 14

Quantum technologies (QT) is a growing field that will become increasingly important and relevant in the future. The founders of the Lithuanian Quantum Technologies Association (LQTA), which was established at the end of last year, believe that Lithuania already has to prepare, learn and fully develop its competencies in this field. The earlier we can jump on board the QT train, which is already gaining momentum, the more competitive and the more prepared for the challenges and opportunities that may arise we will be.

The Lithuanian Quantum Technologies Association was founded last November by Vilnius University (The Faculties of Mathematics and Informatics and Physics), the Centre for Physical and Technological Sciences (CPTS) and the information technology company Novian Technologies, in recognition of the growing global relevance of QT. The association aims to bring together scientific and business organisations and public institutions interested in developing QT and contributing to the country’s progress in this field. In other words, they aim to work together to build an ecosystem in this field.

Groundbreaking technology

According to Gytis Umantas, president of the LQTA and CEO of Novian Technologies, the potential of quantum technologies has long been recognised by China and the USA, and Europe is striving to keep up in this sphere. It is no coincidence that the European Commission has classified QT as one of the four technologies, along with Artificial Intelligence (AI), semiconductors and biotechnology, that have been identified by the Commission as critical to the economic security of the European Union.

Last December, a declaration on the importance of QT for the EU’s scientific and industrial competitiveness was published, which had already been signed by 18 European Union (EU) countries in the first part of March.

‘Lithuania must also be ready to work with other EU countries to build a world-class QT ecosystem across Europe. It is important to realise that we, as a country, need to be active in this area, to learn, to cooperate and to be well prepared for emerging initiatives, projects and real products in this field’, said G. Umantas.

  • The EU’s Digital Decade strategy therefore aims for Europe to have its first supercomputer with quantum acceleration by 2025, paving the way to being at the cutting edge of quantum capabilities by 2030.
  • The European Chips Act also includes measures to foster the low-cost, high-volume manufacturing of quantum chips in the EU, so that they can power a whole range of innovative quantum devices. The source: European Commission, Quantum.

Our neighbors Latvia and Poland have also been active in the field of quantum technologies for some time now. Last year, representatives of Latvia’s scientific community in QT, business and government signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the development of quantum technologies.

This year, Poland will receive a quantum computer based on trapped-ion technology with about 30 quantum bits (qubits). This is the first of six quantum computers to be deployed under the European High-Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) in June 2023, which aims to empower European users to explore and use quantum technologies combined with existing advanced classical supercomputers. Other quantum computers are planned to be deployed in Germany, Italy, France, Spain and the Czech Republic.

‘We see Lithuania’s potential in the development of quantum technologies primarily in active cooperation between business and science. It is important to formulate the need as early as possible to understand how quantum technologies can specifically contribute to increasing business competitiveness and what solutions are needed in this area now and in the future’, said Mr Umantas.

He further explained how Lithuania has a number of successful examples of cooperation between business and science in the field of biotechnology, lasers and photonics, saying, ‘We have excellent examples that can be replicated now that business and science work together to develop quantum innovations’.

It is particularly relevant for cyber security

According to Dr Remigijus Paulavičius, vice president of the LQTA and the representative of Vilnius University, the world is currently experiencing the second quantum revolution.

‘This topic dates back to around the beginning of the 20th century when scientists discovered quantum mechanics to explain phenomena observed in the atomic world. This eventually led to the development of key technologies for computers, telecommunications, smartphones and medical diagnostics, as well as chips and lasers’, explained Mr Paulavičius.

He added that in recent years, a new generation of technologies and systems using phenomena such as quantum superposition of states are being developed, enabling advances in computing, sensors, metrology and cryptography, among other areas.

‘It is important to emphasise that nowadays quantum technologies in the field of cyber security are becoming increasingly relevant, especially when it comes to encryption of sensitive data’, elaborated Mr Paulavičius. This is partly due to the fact that countries around the world with different interests are active in the quantum field and do not hesitate to use cyber tools to achieve their goals.

While today it is difficult to say how many years it will take to develop an advanced quantum computer, having one would make the data cryptography techniques currently in use vulnerable, so the security of encrypted data needs to be addressed right now. One way to do this is to introduce post-quantum cryptography or quantum-based technologies.

‘This makes the issue of data security particularly important, and the development of national guidelines in this area could be a major boost in avoiding potential challenges’, stressed the Vice President of the association.

Quantum sensors are one of the most advanced areas of QT

In terms of QT, perhaps the biggest advances are currently being made in the field of quantum sensors, and according to Dr Tadas Paulauskas, head of the association, there are several advanced quantum sensor platforms.

For example, magnetic and gravitational field quantum sensors are already far superior to classical devices in detecting extremely weak signals. This opens up new opportunities for application in areas as diverse as biotechnology, navigation in extreme environments, advanced radar in the defence industry and detection of underground or underwater anomalies.

‘Muscle fibres, the heart and neurons all generate a magnetic field which, although relatively weak, can penetrate through various materials over a greater distance than electrical signals. A new generation of compact quantum sensor matrices will allow the replacement of some massive and very expensive MRI-based devices, such as magnetoencephalography (MEG). This will not only improve the performance of these diagnostics but also make them more accessible to a larger part of the population’, said Mr Paulauskas.

Enables highly complex calculations

One of the most promising areas of QT, in the opinion of Mr Paulauskas, is quantum computing. High-performance computing (HPC) is crucial in many fields, such as artificial intelligence modelling, pharmaceuticals, finance, logistics, basic research and meteorology.

Limited computational capacity is currently a major constraint on the pace of technological progress, and quantum computers open up new possibilities for calculations that are not possible with classical HPC or may take months or years to complete.

‘One example of where advanced quantum computers could be useful is in industrial ammonium production. Ammonium is the main ingredient in fertilisers in agriculture, and it is produced using the Haber-Bosch process, which is extremely energy intensive and contributes to the greenhouse effect. Quantum computing could optimise this process and make a significant contribution to the needs of the industry’, said the head of the association.

As explained by Dr Paulavičius, the development of quantum algorithms is also relevant in the field of finance for the optimisation of investment portfolios, various forecasts and simulations. In the near term, in the so-called era of noisy quantum computers, algorithms using both classical and quantum computing resources are the most realistic way to gain an advantage in this area.

‘At the moment we are seeing the relevance of hybrid systems: HPC and quantum computers, and we are glad that Novian Technologies’ specialists already have a lot of experience in HPC, in particular, which will undoubtedly be useful for the development of quantum computing’, stated Mr Umantas.

Cooperation in various fields

According to Dr Tadas Paulauskas, head of the association, a number of QT initiatives are currently gaining momentum in Lithuania. ‘We can see that Vilnius University and CPTS scientists are actively working in the technological and theoretical fields of QT—quantum memory, sensors, communications and the development of quantum algorithms’, he said.

We are also actively involved in EU quantum technology development organisations, such as the Quantum Community Network and the EU Quantum Industry Consortium, which bring together key players and contribute to programmes initiated by the European Commission in this field’, the head of the association explained further.

Looking ahead, he advised, it is important to have short- and long-term plans for the development of QT, ranging from talent development, fostering inter-institutional cooperation and start-ups in the country, to the production of devices and QT components, and their application in areas of public interest.

‘To get on board the quantum train, Lithuania does not need to build its own quantum computer, but it does need to have access to one and learn how to take advantage of it. It also has to engage in discourse and cooperation with the international community on QT issues ranging from quantum computing to secure quantum communications’, urged the head of the association.

The article is prepared together with the Lithuanian Quantum Technologies Association.

Source: project at

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