There is a number of emerging quantum technologies, among which we find the category of photon-based quantum technologies, including quantum key distribution or quantum random number generators.

The question is: what is the short-term viability of photon-based quantum computation and simulation, compared with other photon-based quantum technologies?

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the well-framed self-answered question. However, I notice that you created the new tag "quantum-technologies"? I'm not sure we need such a tag because questions about quantum technologies other than quantum computing wouldn't be on-topic here. However, if you had something else in mind while creating the tag, please consider writing an usage description for it, here. $\endgroup$ May 9, 2018 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ I actually did have doubts on the tag myself. Following your suggestion, I just gave it a try to the tag definition. If it is not welcomed I trust it will be deleted soon and of course I'll be OK with that. $\endgroup$ May 9, 2018 at 22:38
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! Looks good. I accepted the tag wiki. I think one more review will be needed. $\endgroup$ May 9, 2018 at 22:40

1 Answer 1


According to this UK-oriented report by Gooch and Housego dated May 8, 2018, quantum computing is only one of several main key applications expected to have a market impact:

  • Clock technology/timing (e.g. bridging between the optical frequencies typical of atomic clocks and electrical/microwave frequencies typical of timing signals within telecommunication networks and computer systems)
  • Magnetometry and gravimetry
  • Medical imaging
  • Microscopy, imaging and calibration
  • Navigation
  • Non-QKD communications
  • QKD/quantum cryptography/secure communications
  • QRNG –quantum random number generator
  • Quantum computing and simulation

To put the validity of this report into perspective, one needs to take into account that this study is an estimate of UK's demand (rather than global demand). Within this limitation, one can see that quantum computation and simulation is expected to be a relatively minor player within photon-based quantum technologies.

In bulk number of devices (demand volume), quantum random number generators are expected to dominate absolutely. The linked report explicitly mentions:

It will be incorporated into every device that requires encryption, which will drive the growth in sales volume.

In demand value, QKD/quantum cryptography/secure communications are expected to be a major player among quantum technologies.

Other applications, while minor, are considered solid, for example, gravimetry, about which it is stated that:

Commercialisation is forecast for the beginning of 2019 when gravimeters will be used for geo-surveying such as bedrock analysis, detection of underground features and site surveying.

Imaging, navigation or non-QKD communications are similarly appreciated as photon-based quantum technologies that are about to hit a small but realistic market.

In comparison, the report also asserts that :

Experts do not believe that a quantum computer will be developed within the next 5 years.


Companies in sectors such as finance and banking and telecoms are adopting a ‘watch and wait’ approach, monitoring developments in academia, investing in know-how and awareness and purchasing small numbers of systems so that they will be ready when the technology reaches commercialisation.

  • $\begingroup$ Could you please clarify in the answer what you mean by "clock technology/timing"? $\endgroup$ May 9, 2018 at 22:41
  • $\begingroup$ I'll edit the answer to improve this and other points that might be non clear, thanks! $\endgroup$ May 10, 2018 at 5:47
  • $\begingroup$ It does look better now! $\endgroup$ May 11, 2018 at 13:42

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