The government on Wednesday approved the National Quantum Mission to nurture and scale up scientific and industrial research and development in quantum technology. The mission involves a cost of Rs 6,003.65 crore from 2023-24 to 2030-31.
The National Quantum Mission (NQM), approved at a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will accelerate quantum technology-led economic growth and nurture the ecosystem in the country.
“NQM is going to give India a quantum jump in this arena,” Science and Technology Minister Jitendra Singh told reporters here.
India will be the seventh country to have a dedicated quantum mission after the US, Austria, Finland, France, Canada and China.
“They are also at the R&D stage. None of them has started any applications of it (quantum technology). We are also going to be at par,” Singh said.
“The new mission targets developing intermediate scale quantum computers with 50-1000 physical qubits in eight years in various platforms like superconducting and photonic technology,” he said.
He said satellite-based secure quantum communications between ground stations over a range of 2000 km within India, long distance secure quantum communications with other countries, intercity quantum key distribution over 2,000 km as well as multi-node quantum network with quantum memories are also some of the deliverables of the mission.
The National Quantum Mission will be headed by a mission director with a dedicated secretariat.
The Governing Body of the mission will be chaired by a renowned scientist or an entrepreneur from the technology, industry or research sector, I&B Minister Anurag Thakur said.
He said the Mission Technology Research Council will be headed by the Principal Scientific Advisor and will be the scientific advisory mechanism for the Governing Body.
Singh said the mission will help develop magnetometers with high sensitivity in atomic systems and atomic clocks for precision timing, communications and navigation.
It will also support design and synthesis of quantum materials such as superconductors, novel semiconductor structures and topological materials for fabrication of quantum devices, Singh said. He said single photon sources/detectors, entangled photon sources will also be developed for quantum communications, sensing and metrological applications.
Singh said four thematic hubs (T-Hubs) will be set up in top academic and national research and development institutes on the domains — quantum computing, quantum communication, quantum sensing and metrology, and quantum materials and devices.
“The hubs will focus on generation of new knowledge through basic and applied research as well as promote R&D in areas that are mandated to them,” the minister said.
Singh said organisations such as the Raman Research Institute, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (both in Bengaluru) and S N Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata, have been pursuing research in the quantum field. Besides, 20 other institutes too are engaged in research and development in this sector, he said.
Singh said the mission can take the technology development ecosystem in the country to a globally competitive level.
The mission would greatly benefit communication, health, financial and energy sectors as well as drug design, and space applications.
It will provide a huge boost to the country’s priorities like Digital India, Make in India, Skill India and Stand-up India, Start-up India, Self-reliant India and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Singh said.