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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : The promise in India’s National     Quantum Mission



Source: Indian Express, Indian Express

Prelims: Current events of national importance, quantum, National Quantum Mission, quantum computing, Nano Mission, National Supercomputing Mission etc

Mains GS Paper II and III: Development process and the development industry-the role of NGOs,SHGs etc



  • The Union Cabinet approved the National Quantum Mission (NQM), putting India among the top six leading nations involved in the research and development in quantum technologies.




Quantum technology:

  • It is a field of science and engineering that deals with the principles of quantum mechanics, which is the study of the behavior of matter and energy at the smallest scale.
  • Quantum mechanics is the branch of physics that describes the behavior of matter and energy at the atomic and subatomic level.


National Quantum Mission (NQM):

  • NQM, planned during 2023 – 2031, is worth 6,003 crore(approx).
  • It will mainly work towards strengthening India’s research and development in the quantum arena alongside indigenously building quantum-based (physical qubit) computers.
    • They are far more powerful to perform the most complex problems in a highly secure manner.
  • It could be a game changer in multiple sectors, from defense, energy, and environment to healthcare and civil applications.



  • Skilled workforce: The process can generate a cadre of highly skilled workforce.
  • As India gears to become the world’s third-largest economy by 2027, a strongly networked material infrastructure in the country will be crucial.
  • It will cater to quantum technologies along with other major scientific megaprojects like:
    • semiconductor mission
    • neutrino observatory
    • gravitational wave detection.
  • The infrastructure will play a key role in building self-reliance in energy and electronics industries.


Quantum materials:

  • Quantum materials are a class of matter or systems that exploit unique properties of quantum physics.
  • They accomplish tasks that classical technology is incapable of.
  • The concept of “quantum materials” was originally introduced to identify some of the exotic quantum systems, including:
    • unconventional superconductors
    • heavy-fermion systems
    • multifunctional oxides.
  • It has morphed into a powerful unifying concept across diverse fields of science and engineering, including:
    • solid state physics
    • cold atoms (atoms cooled to below absolute zero whereby their quantum mechanical properties are unveiled)
    • materials science
    • quantum computing.
  • R&D in quantum materials today embraces traditional semiconductors, superconductors, and non-linear optical crystals directly relevant to computing, communication, and sensing.
  • It encompasses materials built on complex interaction between charge and atoms.
    • The products have uniqueness in the geometric phase of the quantum wave functions
    • The materials are a creation of the more “hidden” properties of quantum physics, such as quantum entanglement.


Quantum devices:

  • Research on new architectures to incorporate quantum materials into functional units has progressed simultaneously, leading to the concept of “quantum devices”.
  • New paradigms of ultrafast transistors and opto-electronics components as well as non-volatile memory and sensing devices are becoming enabling vehicles for quantum applications.


Need for a Quantum Mission:

  • A strong emphasis on quantum materials and devices is an integral component of any quantum technology mission.
  • Upstream in the innovation pipeline, materials’ experts play important roles in developing new or upgrading current methods for precision synthesis, scalable yield, and stable performance.
  • Research will be required to develop low-loss materials for superconducting quantum electronics that preserve quantum information over a long period, novel semiconductor nanostructures for the high-brightness source of entangled photons and much more.
  • It will allow streamlining the material and device requirements for the core quantum technology verticals of the mission:
    • building infrastructure for new materials and devices with in-house R&D
    • synergising the diverse and geographically distributed material workforce in India to achieve mission deliverables
    • ensuring efficient resource utilization as well as minimizing redundancy and duplication.
  • The quantum materials and devices component of the National Quantum Mission will bring innovation in the field under a common umbrella.
  • It will have a project-driven multi-disciplinary approach and develop strategies as well as an in-house R&D programme to propel quantum technology in India beyond the state-of-the-art through:
    • fundamental discoveries
    • imaginative engineering
    • entrepreneurial initiatives.


How to achieve the targets?

  • It will require leveraging the evolving scientific infrastructure in the country and aligning with some of the key national mandates.
  • Capacity building in the past two decades under national initiatives:
    • such as the Nano Mission:
      • It has enabled a fivefold increase in research publications in this area between 2011 and 2019.
    • Several institutions are endowed with expertise and facilities, including excellent infrastructure for semiconductors. They can be utilized.
    • There is a strong community of material modeling and computing expertise, supported by the National Supercomputing Mission and other local computing facilities.
    • Material innovation in the quantum domain will invigorate the manufacturing-based entrepreneurial ecosystem.
      • Such activities could benefit from the government’s support through the Startup India initiative and other schemes.



  • Currently nearly 12 percent startups are deep tech-related
    • It represents a nearly 35 times increase between 2016 and 2019.
    • However less than 3 percent of these involve manufacturing and/or materials.
  • Materials and devices-based innovation will create new businesses from manufacturing supporting equipment.
    • India currently imports — to high-end specialized devices, such as semiconductor-based single-photon detectors, at the bulk scale.
  • We do not have enough infrastructure that can support the entire chain of operation from working out the proof-of-principle to developing working prototypes.
  • The sub-critical size of the country’s R&D community is a matter of equal concern.
    • In 2018, India had 253 full-time equivalent researchers per million of its population.
    • About 11 percent of the researcher density of Italy.
  • The workforce is distributed across the country, and strategies will be required to integrate the initiatives of the demographically scattered human resources.



Way Forward

  • The National Quantum mission will require a significant component of materials research to be carried out in goal-oriented multi-institutional consortia.
  • It will demand strategic recruitment of new talent, synergistic multi-institutional collaboration and political will to ease bureaucratic norms and prevent delays in infrastructure building — to ensure that the mission’s deadlines are met.
  • The material/device challenge in quantum technologies is unique because it often demands manipulation of the quantum state of an electron or atom with as much control as those in bulk three-dimensional systems that contain billions of atoms.
  • India needs to create a well-balanced R&D ecosystem where material research for near-term goals and applications needs to coexist and collaborate with those with more fundamental and futuristic objectives.
    • This will help in beneficial outcomes to be immediately recognised, systematically characterized, engineered, and put to use.
  • Material domains in all aspects of quantum technology — computing, communications, and sensing — are still developing.
    • There is a chance that through timely investment and efficient management
    • India can emerge as a global leader in the field.



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