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NRF launches national Quantum Engineering Programme to translate Quantum Science into Industry-ready solutions

· Press Release

Singapore is poised to unlock the full potential of quantum engineering from the strong capabilities in quantum science and technologies built over 20 years of research at our universities. The National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF) has launched a Quantum Engineering Programme (QEP) to translate quantum science and technologies into engineering devices and capabilities that meet industry needs. The national programme seeks to build a competitive quantum engineering research community in Singapore with experience to translate quantum technologies into real-world applications. NRF will invest S$25 million in the QEP over five years.

2 QEP aims to develop the engineering capabilities needed to commercialise quantum technologies into applications such as quantum communication systems, quantum sensors and devices. The programme will connect researchers in quantum science, photonics devices, and system engineering, with industry partners and local start-ups to commercialise research in these application areas. Specific applications are expected in the fields of cybersecurity, global navigation systems, sensing technologies, and diagnostic imaging. Markets for these applications are expected to grow exponentially in the next 5-10 years.

Application Areas under QEP

3 Singapore has built significant strength in quantum science. The Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) at the National University of Singapore (NUS), established in 2007, has developed into a globally-recognised centre. Many quantum technologies require extensive research before their feasibility for commercialisation can be assessed. There are also challenges, such as scalability, to realising quantum devices and applications. Very often, these require engineering solutions to achieve commercialisation outcomes.

4 QEP will address this gap through the building up of engineering capabilities in three research themes, namely, quantum secure communication, quantum devices, and quantum networks. The research themes will leverage Singapore’s expertise in quantum technologies and our engineering capabilities in communication, imaging, system design and device fabrication, to create commercialisation opportunities in: -

(a) Quantum cryptography to safeguard against cybersecurity threats. It has been demonstrated that quantum computers, if implemented one day, can easily break today’s most prevalent cryptosystems in minutes. Quantum cryptography can prevent this scenario. QEP will therefore focus on developing viable and portable quantum crypto-systems that are widely deployable in practice. For instance, quantum crypto-systems developed in the programme could be used to encrypt and protect secret documents, and provide quantum-certifiable random numbers for biometrics, computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and information security.

(b) Robust ground-based time network. Today, most countries depend on Global Positioning System (GPS) and global navigation satellite systems to derive precise timing information. However, these time sources are vulnerable and prone to active disruption efforts. Quantum clocks, if made portable, can provide a robust ground-based source of timing information with key applications in telecommunication, banking, space communication, and radar technology.

(c) Enhanced imaging and sensing technology. Quantum enhanced imaging technologies are, in principle, much more effective than existing classical techniques. Application areas include fluorescence and phase microscopy, space telescope imaging, magnetic and gravitational sensing, and thermal imaging.

(d) Advanced manufacturing capability. QEP will seek to strengthen Singapore’s capabilities in engineering integrated quantum devices, generate quantum technology patents, and support local start-ups specialising in quantum technologies.

5 Mr George Loh, Director (Programmes) at NRF, said: “The Quantum Engineering Programme builds on the momentum of our past investments in quantum science to now realise quantum devices and applications for commercialisation. The programme will connect Singapore researchers in quantum information, photonics devices, system engineering together with industry partners from the onset of the translation and development process to advance quantum technologies. Through this, we also build up a strong base of engineering talent who can tackle the technologically challenging aspects of fabricating quantum devices.”


6 Professor John Thong, Head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NUS Faculty of Engineering, and Dr Kwek Leong Chuan, who is from CQT at NUS and the National Institute of Education at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, will lead the programme as co-Directors. The programme will be governed by a Steering Committee, chaired by Professor Chua Kee Chaing, Dean of NUS Engineering.

7 A QEP programme office will be set up and hosted in NUS. The office will support the co-Directors in launching calls for proposals in the three identified research themes, with the work undertaken by publicly-funded researchers, in collaboration with local and international industry partners.

8 Prof Thong said: “QEP is an exciting and ambitious R&D programme that will accelerate the translation of research in quantum phenomena into robust and scalable quantum technologies. By bringing together local and international expertise in engineering and quantum science, we aim to develop innovative quantum engineering solutions that could bring about economic and societal benefits for Singapore and beyond.”

9 Dr Kwek added: “Singapore has been actively involved in quantum research for about 20 years. The timely establishment of this new programme will attract more people working in engineering to contribute to these efforts, so that in the long run, we can play a greater role in commercialising quantum technologies.”

Media Contact
Ms Hoh Suk Mun
Assistant Head, Corporate Communications
National Research Foundation Singapore, Prime Minister’s Office
Contact: 6694 5036; 9150 2036

About the National Research Foundation Singapore
The National Research Foundation (NRF) is a department within the Prime Minister's Office. The NRF sets the national direction for research, innovation and enterprise (RIE) in Singapore. It seeks to invest in science, technology and engineering, build up the technological capacity of our companies, encourage innovation by industry to exploit new opportunities that drive economic growth, and facilitate public-private partnerships to address national challenges.

Under RIE2020, NRF is committed to create greater value in Singapore from our investment in research, innovation and enterprise through 1) closer integration of research thrusts, 2) stronger dynamic towards the best teams and ideas, 3) sharper focus on value creation, and 4) better optimised RIE manpower.
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