National Quantum Mission

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Context: Union Cabinet has approved the National Quantum Mission (NQM) at a cost of Rs 6,003.65 crore. The mission will have defined milestones that are expected to be achieved over the course of eight years (2023-24 to 2030-31).

Quantum Technology

  • Quantum computers utilise the principles of quantum mechanics to perform certain types of computations much faster than classical computers.
    • Quantum mechanics is a theory in physics that deals with the behaviour of matter and energy at the most fundamental level (at the scale of atoms and subatomic particles).
  • Classical computers process information using bits, which are either 0 or 1, whereas quantum computing uses quantum bits, or qubits, which can be in a superposition of both 0 and 1 states at the same time. This property of superposition allows quantum computers to perform certain types of calculations much faster than classical computers.
  • The power of a quantum computer scales exponentially with the number of qubits, unlike classical computers, which scale linearly with the number of bits.
  • The principle is used in semiconductors, lasers, Blu-ray, transistors, mobile phones, USB drives, MRI, electron microscopes, and even the basic light switch. 
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Major Highlights of the Mission 

  • The new mission targets developing 20-50 physical ‘qubits’ in three years, 50-100 physical qubits in five years and intermediate-scale quantum computers with 50-1,000physical qubits in 8 years.
    • In classical computing, the smallest and most basic unit of information that can be processed and stored is called a ‘bit’.
    • In quantum computing, the basic unit of information is called a ‘qubit’.
  • Some of the deliverables of the Mission are:
    • Developing satellite-based secure quantum communications between ground stations over a range of 2,000 kilometres within India
    • long-distance secure quantum communications with other countries
    • inter-city quantum key distribution over 2000 km
    • multi-node quantum network with quantum memories.
  • The mission will help develop magnetometers with high sensitivity in atomic systems, and atomic clocks for precision timing, communications and navigation.
  • It will support the design and synthesis of quantum materials such as superconductors, novel semiconductor structures and topological materials for the fabrication of quantum devices. 
  • Single photon sources/detectors, and entangled photon sources will also be developed for quantum communications, sensing and metrological applications.
  • Four Thematic Hubs (T-Hubs) would be set up in top academic and National R&D institutes on the domains of ‘quantum computing’, ‘quantum communication’, ‘quantum sensing and metrology’ and ‘quantum materials and devices’.
    • The hubs will focus on the generation of new knowledge through basic and applied research as well as promote R&D in areas that are mandated to them.


  • Qubits are extremely delicate and prone to errors, and increasing the number of qubits while maintaining their stability is a major challenge in the development of quantum computers.


  • Presently, only six countries — the US, Finland, Austria, France, China and Canada — have some capability in this domain. The mission will bring India to the forefront along with them.
  • It will accelerate the development of Quantum Technologies & Applications and technology-led economic growth in the country. 
  • It would greatly benefit communication, health, financial and energy sectors as well as drug design, and space applications.
  • It will provide a huge boost to “national priorities” like ‘Digital India’, ‘Make in India’, ‘Skill India’, ‘Stand-up India’, ‘Startup India’, ‘Self-reliant India’ and Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The technology will secure the country’s defence communication but also act as a deterrent, preventing the attempt to hack into India’s communication networks.

India’s quantum mission

  • India’s quantum mission has been in the works since 2018, when the Department of Science & Technology put out a call for proposals on projects related to the field of quantum computing.
  • QuEST (Quantum-Enabled Science & Technology) falls under the department’s Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (ICPS) division. 

Practise Question

Q. Consider the following statements with reference to Quantum Computers:

1. Quantum computing calculates with qubits which can represent either 0 or 1.

2. The power of quantum computing increases exponentially in proportion to the number of qubits.

3. It is relatively easier to maintain the stability of qubits by increasing the number of qubits.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

    1. 1 and 3 only

    1. 2 only

    1. 2 and 3 only

    1. 1, 2 and 3

Answer: (b) 

Source: The Hindu

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