Unrivalled processing power
Having first emerged in the 1980s after scientists began looking into the possibility of using quantum mechanics to solve difficult calculations, the concept of quantum computing has been attracting growing interest for a number of years now.
It’s not hard to see why. While standard computers use conventional binary values of either 1 or 0 to make calculations, quantum computers employ what are known as qubits, which are capable of representing an exponentially higher number of values than bits. The way in which these qubits interact makes it possible to carry out certain processing tasks much more quickly than a standard computer would be able to.
This should enable quantum computers to solve certain types of problems that are currently unsolvable. Examples include nitrogenase enzyme simulation, which could be used to get around the Haber-Bosch process, which consumes 3 to 5% of all natural gas produced and roughly 1 to 2% of global energy reserves. A quantum computer would thus be able to understand how this enzyme works, allowing it to catalyse at room temperature and to produce nitrogen fertilisers with no heating required.
Although no quantum computer is yet sophisticated enough to perform such tasks, governments, tech giants and investors are already preparing for the revolution. This quantum arms race is largely motivated by the breakthroughs that such technology is expected to bring about. It’s not hard to see why: whichever country is first to get to grips with quantum computing will play a leading role in the future.