Some of the most eventful moments in history happened when our ancestors learned to harness natural resources. Think on the first humans making fire and learning to farm or, much more recently, how the control of electricity and nuclear energy changed our life.
We are now in the verge of a new technological revolution based on harnessing two of the weirdest natural resources: quantum entanglement and quantum coherence. If we make it happen, this revolution will bring extremely powerful quantum computers, unbreakable quantum communications, quantum sensors and other wonders that nobody has even begun to think of.
The potential for quantum technologies based on entanglement and coherence is so large that corporations such as INTEL, Google, IBM, Microsoft are making very large investments, and the EU is going to launch a flagship on quantum technologies.
This new revolution is known as the second quantum revolution, because we are already enjoying the first, which is based on quantum concepts, such as atomic orbitals, photons and spins. The first quantum revolution has made possible electronics, spintronics and lasers, that we all have in our pockets, and there is no need to stress how much they have change our life.
Nanotechnology is a bridge between the first and the second quantum revolutions. As we make smaller and smaller electronic devices, we reach the limit where quantum entanglement and quantum coherence start to change their behavior. The goal is now to take advantage from them.
The role of materials in all of this can not be overstated. Very much like there was a Stone age, or an Iron age, the last 6 decades are, no doubt, the Silicon age. Silicon, together with a handful of materials, form the basis of the existing technologies. But there are many materials out there, with amazing properties, and it is think is fair so say that we have just scratched on the surface of the million possibilities that they will bring to us.
For these reasons, the QuantaLab is devoted to carry out research in the broad areas of Quantum Materials and Quantum Technologies, joining forces between INL and U Minho, bringing together people with different expertise, and taking advantage of our unique nanofabrication infrastructures. We have defined very specific areas in which we will try to make relevant contributions to this fascinating second quantum revolution, and by so doing, improve the welfare of our societies.
(Text adapted from the speech given by J. Fernández-Rossier on the occasion of the signature of the M.O.U., on July 1st 2016)