The breakthrough in quantum computing will take more time, says physics prizewinner Professor Serge Haroche

Professor Serge Haroche, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics, said in a speech at the Shiv Nadar Institution of Eminence, Delhi-NCR: “Although physicists around the world are trying very hard, we are far from having a quantum computer. But what will undoubtedly happen is to find new applications of quantum technology, some of which will be more surprising. Once we thoroughly understand quantum complexity and entanglement, we can discover more applications that we do not dream of today. We should keep ourselves open to all surprises. We can never accurately predict the future, because if we do, we limit our research.”

Professor Haroche was speaking at the institution as part of a lecture series organized by the Indo-French Center for the Promotion of Advanced Research (CEFIPRA).

In her welcome address, Dr. Ananya Mukherjee, Vice-Chancellor of Shiv Nadar Institution of Eminence said the event marks a special day in the life of the university.

“Research is the backbone of our institution, and we strive to produce research that transforms the world and inspires strong and enduring enthusiasm. Research is an integral part of our curriculum. We are privileged to have a research infrastructure in the Global South and we are expanding that infrastructure every day to expand an exceptional research environment. As an Institution of Eminence appointed by the Government of India, we aim to actively participate in the country’s research priorities,” said Dr. Mukherjee.

Professor Haroche explained the origins of quantum research and recalled how the connection between Albert Einstein and the Indian scientist Satyendra Nath Bose exactly a century ago, in 1923, helped Einstein develop the Bose-Einstein statistic, which is the cornerstone of quantum research was. “This explains the connection between basic and applied science. What Bose-Einstein statistics later explained led to a new field of physics called atomic interferometry.”

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Destroying the hype surrounding the so-called ‘second quantum revolution’, Professor Haroche said: ‘It is time that we focus on our research and not publish it excessively because we can rarely predict what the future will bring. All we know is that we must tirelessly pursue basic research. We must be motivated by our curiosity. The applications that emerge a few years later will no doubt surprise us.”

dr Didier Raboisson, Attaché for Scientific Cooperation, Embassy of France in India, previously told the audience: “CEFIPRA is offering 4 million euros for research between India and France and we also have a 1.7 million euro grant to support student mobility India to France.” He encouraged students and faculty from Indian universities to explore these options for joint research.

“The Shiv Nadar Institution of Eminence is a young university that shows a strong passion for teaching and research. We are pleased to host this lecture here,” said Dr. Nitin Seth, Director of CEFIPRA, in his opening remarks.

In his introduction to Professor Haroche, Dr. Sanjeev Galande, Dean of the Faculty of Science: “When it comes to the tiny components of the universe, the usual understanding of how the world works stops. Many quantum phenomena could only be observed theoretically. In the 1980s, Professor Serge Haroche designed experiments to study quantum phenomena when matter and light interact. Professor Haroche is a man who realized his dream. With his elementary knowledge of calculus as a child, he was able to calculate complex problems. The amazing fact that nature follows mathematical laws and the mysterious beauties of the quantum world inspired the child in Professor Haroche to become a quantum physicist.”

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The Nobel laureate’s lecture was followed by a panel discussion with three of India’s leading quantum physicists: Professor Urbasi Sinha from the Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru; Professor Umakant Rapol, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune; and Professor Rajamani Vijayaraghavan from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. dr Subhra Sen Gupta from the Department of Physics at the Shiv Nadar Institution of Eminence moderated the lecture. Professor Haroche expressed his appreciation for the work being done in India and the passion with which the scientists spoke about their work.

In conclusion, the Nobel laureate said: “Collaborations are very important and should be developed from the bottom up – scientists should expand their interests organically.

The lecture was attended by about 600 people from all over Delhi-NCR.