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NQIT award helps Oxford University top research income league table




The Times Higher Education Supplement reports that the University of Oxford is now ranked top for research income in the UK. The figures are based on the year 2014/15.

The article says:

The University of Oxford climbed from second to first place. Ian Walmsley, Oxford’s pro vice-chancellor for research and innovation, said that the university had not put in more applications for grants and the increase in funding was due to a “few exceptionally large awards”.

This included the EPSRC’s £120 million Quantum Technology Hubs, awarded last November, which NQIT is a part of.

Read more here.

Photo of Clarendon Laboratory, Townsend Building, Oxford by Jpbowen via Commons


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Being a Quantum Scientist – an interview with Stephen Johnson




Ugo and Stephen

Stephen started his physics journey by undertaking a theoretical physics degree, before switching paths to experimental physics and taking up a PhD at the University of Birmingham, building a cold atom system. From there he went into industry for 5 years and worked on imaging sensors that will ultimately be launched into space, specifically to Jupiter, in 2030! Stephen is now working as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Glasgow, working on ‘light detecting and ranging’ (Lidar). We caught up with Stephen at the Association for Science Education (ASE) Conference in 2019 and he told us a little more about his current work in Physics:

You mentioned your transition from theoretical physics to experimental physics. I’d like to ask you first how easy that was and also what interested you in that particular direction (quantum) as it isn’t one of the core directions and a very niche area?

I moved from theoretical to experimental physics quite straightforwardly. I think theoretical physics gave me a much better understanding of mathematics and the basis behind the experimental things. I don’t think people should be siloed into theory or experimenting, you need to understand both to really understand physics. Quantum is always an interesting area, being a big subject since the 1920s, and it’s becoming more and more interesting.

You mentioned you spent some time in industry, can you tell us a bit about how easy it was for you to get a place in industry and the experience and skills that stint gave you?

I think there are a lot more jobs in industry than there are for people finishing their PhD and trying to stay in academia. It was definitely a worthwhile time – seeing how project management can work, learning about manufacturing components, supply chains, product engineering, marketing and sales. It was a fascinating area to be in, giving me a background understanding of how the stuff you buy gets made. For example, a lot of academics pay a lot of money for components and they may not understand the process or why it’s quite that much money.

Is there a typical day in the lab/ office for a researcher like yourself?

In term time, a typical week probably includes spending a day and a half on teaching duties (whether that’s being in the lab or planning resources) and then there’s a lot of time at my desk, reading papers. There’s probably about 5 papers a week I should be reading, if I have time, and otherwise it’s writing proposals, planning and research.

You are working on Lidar can you tell us what that is and the potential technical application?

Lot of people are familiar with radar, which is used to identify where planes are in the sky, using radio waves. The radio wave bounces off the object, comes back to the detector and enables people to know what’s in the sky. Lidar bounces light from objects, but you need very specialised equipment – you need a laser that you can control the pulse rate of and you need a detector that can measure very fast time periods (about 100 picoseconds). In that time, light will travel about 3cm, this means you can start to identify people, objects and cars using this technology. The technology can be used in self-driving cars (autonomous vehicles) to see what is in front of you – cameras are very good, but there’s often a lot of things they can’t see when you’re driving – using this system, you could “see” 200 metres down the road. You could also use lidar for surveying, you can measure buildings or archaeological sites and get a direct 3D measurement of something without any destruction such as digging.

Can you tell me how easy it is for people to get involved in quantum technologies? If you have a physics degree is it fairly straight forward nowadays?

A lot of jobs will need a basis of quantum understanding that you get from an undergraduate degree. As quantum technologies become more widespread, engineers and project managers with an understanding of quantum physics and expertise in the field will be needed.  If you do a quantum physics PhD then I’m sure there will be a lot of jobs for you in the years to come, as it becomes a bigger subject.

Is there a particular application of quantum technologies that you are particularly excited to see the development of in years to come?

Imaging in wavelengths outside the visible for example, imaging the infrared and the ultraviolet wavelengths, which cannot be done with normal cameras. One of our projects is imaging gas leaks – cameras can be tuned to see gas being released from a pipe. There is currently a huge amount of loss of the gas we use in our houses from pipes and the more we can fix those, the more gas we can save, the less would be pumped into the atmosphere, therefore, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and also lowering energy bills.  This is a really interesting project with very interesting applications for the future!


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New Hub Paper: ‘Imperfect 1-out-of-2 quantum oblivious transfer: bounds, a protocol, and its experimental implementation’




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By Ryan Amiri, Robert Stárek, Michal Mičuda, Ladislav Mišta Jr, Miloslav Dušek, Petros Wallden, Erika Andersson.

Submitted to arXiv on 9 July 2020.

Oblivious transfer is an important primitive in modern cryptography. Applications include secure multiparty computation, oblivious sampling, e-voting, and signatures. Information-theoretically secure perfect 1-out-of 2 oblivious transfer is impossible to achieve. Imperfect variants, where both
participants’ ability to cheat is still limited, are possible using quantum means while remaining classically impossible. Precisely what security parameters are attainable remains unknown. We introduce a theoretical framework for studying semi-random quantum oblivious transfer, which is shown equivalent to regular oblivious transfer in terms of cheating probabilities. We then use it to derive bounds on cheating. We also present a protocol with lower cheating probabilities than previous schemes, together with its optical realisation. We show that a lower bound of 2/3 on the minimum achievable cheating probability can be directly derived for semi-random protocols using a different method and definition of cheating than used previously. The lower bound increases
from 2/3 to approximately 0.749 if the states output by the protocol are pure and symmetric. The oblivious transfer scheme we present uses unambiguous state elimination measurements and can be implemented with the same technological requirements as standard quantum cryptography. In particular, it does not require honest participants to prepare or measure entangled states. The
cheating probabilities are 3/4 and approximately 0.729 for sender and receiver respectively, which is lower than in existing protocols. Using a photonic test-bed, we have implemented the protocol with honest parties, as well as optimal cheating strategies. Due to the asymmetry of the receiver’s and sender’s cheating probabilities, the protocol can be combined with a “trivial” protocol to achieve an overall protocol with lower average cheating probabilities of approximately 0.74 for both sender and receiver. This demonstrates that interestingly, protocols where the final output states are pure and symmetric are not optimal in terms of average cheating probability.

Read the whole paper here.


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Generating Fault-Tolerant Cluster States from Crystal Structures




Michael Newman1, Leonardo Andreta de Castro1,2, and Kenneth R. Brown1

1Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chemistry, and Physics, Duke University, Durham, NC, 27708, USA
2Q-CTRL Pty Ltd, Sydney, NSW, Australia

Find this paper interesting or want to discuss? Scite or leave a comment on SciRate.


Measurement-based quantum computing (MBQC) is a promising alternative to traditional circuit-based quantum computing predicated on the construction and measurement of cluster states. Recent work has demonstrated that MBQC provides a more general framework for fault-tolerance that extends beyond foliated quantum error-correcting codes. We systematically expand on that paradigm, and use combinatorial tiling theory to study and construct new examples of fault-tolerant cluster states derived from crystal structures. Included among these is a robust self-dual cluster state requiring only degree-$3$ connectivity. We benchmark several of these cluster states in the presence of circuit-level noise, and find a variety of promising candidates whose performance depends on the specifics of the noise model. By eschewing the distinction between data and ancilla, this malleable framework lays a foundation for the development of creative and competitive fault-tolerance schemes beyond conventional error-correcting codes.

► BibTeX data

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Cited by

[1] Ye Wang, Mu Qiao, Zhengyang Cai, Kuan Zhang, Naijun Jin, Pengfei Wang, Wentao Chen, Chunyang Luan, Haiyan Wang, Yipu Song, Dahyun Yum, and Kihwan Kim, “Realization of two-dimensional crystal of ions in a monolithic Paul trap”, arXiv:1912.04262.

[2] Cupjin Huang, Xiaotong Ni, Fang Zhang, Michael Newman, Dawei Ding, Xun Gao, Tenghui Wang, Hui-Hai Zhao, Feng Wu, Gengyan Zhang, Chunqing Deng, Hsiang-Sheng Ku, Jianxin Chen, and Yaoyun Shi, “Alibaba Cloud Quantum Development Platform: Surface Code Simulations with Crosstalk”, arXiv:2002.08918.

[3] Shilin Huang, Michael Newman, and Kenneth R. Brown, “Fault-Tolerant Weighted Union-Find Decoding on the Toric Code”, arXiv:2004.04693.

[4] Hayata Yamasaki, Kosuke Fukui, Yuki Takeuchi, Seiichiro Tani, and Masato Koashi, “Polylog-overhead highly fault-tolerant measurement-based quantum computation: all-Gaussian implementation with Gottesman-Kitaev-Preskill code”, arXiv:2006.05416.

The above citations are from SAO/NASA ADS (last updated successfully 2020-07-14 06:34:29). The list may be incomplete as not all publishers provide suitable and complete citation data.

On Crossref’s cited-by service no data on citing works was found (last attempt 2020-07-14 06:34:27).


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