Applications of Quantum Computing

Near Term Applications of Quantum Computing 2024 and Beyond

In 2024, we are starting to see the first real world applications of quantum computing emerge. While full-scale, fault-tolerant quantum computers may still be years away, the “noisy intermediate scale quantum” (NISQ) computers available today are beginning to make an impact in certain domains. Here are some of the near-term applications of quantum computing we can expect to see coming online in 2024 and beyond.

Applications of Quantum Computing

Quantum chemistry

One of the most promising near-term applications of quantum computing is in quantum chemistry. Quantum computers have the potential to accurately simulate chemical processes at the molecular level in ways that are intractable for classical computers.

Modeling chemical reactions

In 2024, we will see quantum computers used to analyze and optimize chemical reactions. For example, researchers from IBM and Mitsubishi Chemical used a quantum computer to model the Haber-Bosch process for producing ammonia. Quantum simulations provided insights that could lead to more efficient designs of this fundamental industrial process.

Drug discovery

Quantum computing also has applications in pharmaceutical research and drug discovery. Researchers can use quantum algorithms to analyze molecular interactions between medications and disease pathways. This can help speed up the process of identifying, designing, and testing new drug candidates compared to purely classical techniques.

Advanced materials

Quantum computing will also begin making inroads in advanced materials research by 2024.

Batteries

For example, quantum simulations can uncover new insights into improving battery storage capacity or improving chemical processes used to manufacture batteries. This could accelerate the development of next generation batteries to power electric vehicles and store renewable energy.

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Catalysts

Researchers are also beginning to use quantum computing to model catalytic chemical reactions with the goal of designing more efficient and cheaper industrial catalysts to produce materials, chemicals, and fuels.

Logistics & optimization

Quantum computing shows promise in solving complex logistics optimization challenges that stretch the limits of classical techniques.

Supply chain optimization

Quantum algorithms exist that can efficiently solve supply chain problems, like balancing procurement, production, inventory, and transportation to minimize costs. As early as 2024, we may see companies testing quantum computing to provide recommendations on optimally sourcing parts, scheduling factories, setting inventory levels throughout distribution networks to reduce waste, or delivering goods in the most efficient routes.

Financial portfolio optimization

Banks and other financial institutions have begun investigating using quantum computing to develop investment portfolios or trading strategies designed to optimize financial returns given a set of risk parameters. In 2024, we are likely to see the first trials of quantum financial systems, even if only used initially to complement classical computing techniques.

Artificial Intelligence

Quantum computing will not replace classical machine learning techniques. However, we will begin to see explorations of hybrid quantum-classical ML models by 2024.

Quantum neural networks

Quantum neural network algorithms attempt to use quantum computing advantages to speed up training or executing certain types of neural networks. In 2024, teams from industry and academia will continue researching quantum neural networks and may have some small demonstration applications. But widespread adoption is still a longer term prospect after more advanced quantum computers are available.

Quantum natural language processing

Quantum computing may also provide advantages in certain natural language processing tasks like translation or speech recognition. By incorporating quantum techniques, researchers hope to develop more efficient and powerful AI language models. We are less likely to see full fledged quantum natural language applications this soon, but R&D will continue advancing in this direction.

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Cloud quantum computing services

Expanding access to quantum computers for researchers, students, and businesses is critical to advancing quantum information science. Cloud quantum computing services have begun allowing more users to test quantum algorithms or prototype applications without requiring specialized expertise to operate physical quantum hardware.

Leading providers

Tech giants like IBM, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google all currently offer various tiers of cloud quantum computing access via services like IBM Quantum Experience, Amazon Braket, Azure Quantum, and Google Quantum Computing Service. Startups like Rigetti Computing also provide cloud access to their quantum processors.

Growing adoption

The availability of these cloud quantum platforms is still fairly recent, with some services only launching since late 2021. But in 2024, we anticipate steady growth in cloud quantum adoption as more developers and organizations begin actively experimenting with quantum algorithms and quantum machine learning models using pre-built services rather than self-managed quantum labs.

Conclusion

In 2024, we are poised to see the early stages quantum computing applications start making an impact, even if full-scale fault tolerance remains on the more distant horizon. From quantum chemistry simulations to supply chain optimizations to cloud access services, practical quantum computing use cases will continue expanding over the next year and beyond. The age of quantum computing is truly just getting started, and we only expect adoption and innovation in the quantum space to accelerate in the coming years.

FAQs

What industries will see quantum computing applications first?

The earliest industry adopters of quantum computing are likely to be the chemical, pharmaceutical, advanced materials, financial services, and technology sectors working on R&D problems well suited to near-term quantum techniques.

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What companies are working on quantum computing in 2024?

Major companies actively researching or developing quantum computing technology include Google, IBM, Microsoft, Intel, Honeywell, Alibaba Quantum Laboratory, Amazon, Rigetti Computing, IonQ, D-Wave Systems, and a growing list of startups attracted to the space.

When will I be able to access a quantum computer?

Cloud quantum computing services from providers like IBM, Amazon, and Rigetti already allow public access for experimenting with real quantum processors via the internet without specialized quantum hardware expertise. As these services expand, quantum computing will become accessible to more developers over the next few years.

Can quantum machine learning replace classical ML today?

No. Near-term quantum machine learning algorithms tend to be narrow demonstrations lacking the complexity for most real-world applications. Quantum techniques may complement classical ML someday, but cannot replace them outright anytime soon. Significant hardware advances are still needed to support complex quantum neural networks.

Are quantum computers currently able to break blockchain or cryptography?

No. Cryptographers are already designing encryption schemes like quantum secure digital signatures which will resist attack from future, more advanced quantum computers. So crypto and blockchain remain safe today against the limited power of current quantum prototypes. But stronger quantum computers could eventually upend cryptography as we know it.

MK Usmaan