28 Sep, 2023
18 : 21
Since the beginning of the 20th Century, quantum mechanics has produced significant breakthroughs, including the inventions of the transistor, the laser, and the atomic clock. This resulted in the "first quantum revolution". In the 21st century, the development of new technologies such as quantum information, quantum computing, and quantum metrology has brought about the "second quantum revolution".
In 2022, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics to French physicist Prof Alain Aspect, American physicist Prof John F Clauser, and Austrian physicist Prof Anton Zeilinger for their pioneering work in quantum physics and quantum information science.
What is quantum information? How will it revolutionise traditional information technology and transform our lives?
On 25 September 2023, YCYW students and teachers had a unique opportunity to interact with a renowned quantum information scientist. Professor Feihu Xu, Professor of Physics at the University of Science and Technology of China, introduced students to quantum physics during his lecture “Science and Innovation Lecture: A Quantum Leap for Information Technology” at the YCIS Shanghai Pudong Campus.
Professor Xu has made outstanding achievements in the fields of quantum information science and single-photon imaging. He has authored more than 100 journal papers and published articles about his research in influential publications such as Nature and Physical Review Letters.
His contributions have earned him numerous accolades, including the International Quantum Technology Early Career Scientist Award, and MIT Technology Review recognised him in its "Innovators Under 35 China" listing .
During his lecture, Professor Xu traced the history of human evolution and the development of communication technology. He raised three fundamental questions: How do humans communicate information? How do they process information? How do they protect information security? The first quantum revolution promoted the development of major applications such as computers, the Internet, and mobile phones. But traditional information technology still grapples with challenges such as the physical limitations of silicon transistors and information security.
Professor Xu believes that after more than a century of development, quantum physics can provide solutions to these challenges. He introduced students to concepts such as quantum superposition, quantum entanglement, quantum key distribution (QKD), and quantum teleportation. These concepts explain the potential of quantum information technology and relate to the famous thought experiment known as "Schrödinger's cat".
After this introduction, Professor Xu discussed China's significant advancements and breakthroughs in the field of quantum communication applications. He highlighted the pioneering achievement of launching Micius, the world's first quantum science experimental satellite, in 2016 under the leadership of Professor Pan Jianwei, an esteemed quantum physicist. Micius has laid the foundation for developing a robust and secure satellite navigation infrastructure.
It is worth noting that Professor Pan Jianwei was appointed the YCIS Hong Kong Honorary Lecturer in Science Education during the launching ceremony of the Science and Innovation Lecture in 2022, organised by the Hong Kong STEM Education Alliance.
In the latter part of the lecture, Professor Xu directed the students' attention to the future and introduced important directions of development such as quantum internet and the integration of quantum computing with artificial intelligence. He also discussed his team's pioneering research in non-line-of-sight imaging, a technique commonly referred to as "seeing things through walls", a concept that piqued the students' curiosity.
Professor Xu concluded his lecture by quoting Johannes Kepler, a 17th-century astronomer, who said: “Let us create vessels and sails adjusted to the heavenly ether, and there will be plenty of people unafraid of the empty wastes.” Professor Xu encouraged the students to remain curious and to explore bravely.
Senior secondary students and teachers from YCIS and YWIES in Shanghai and neighbouring areas attended the lecture in person. Students and teachers from YCIS Hong Kong and other YCYW network schools watched the live broadcast of the lecture.
The Q&A session had active participation; several students eagerly asked questions.
A YCIS Shanghai student asked Professor Xu what he would say to Albert Einstein if he could travel back in time to meet him. Professor Xu said that Einstein invented quantum mechanics, and that he would tell Einstein about the many changes that quantum mechanics has brought to the world. Other questions dealt with future developments in quantum technology. A student from YWIES Lingang asked Professor Xu about his doubts concerning the Uncertainty Principle and Bohr's Correspondence Principle.
YCIS Hong Kong students asked two insightful questions. One student asked Professor Xu’s about the future interaction of AI and quantum computing. Another student asked Professor Xu about increasing international collaboration.
Professor Xu shared his personal experience and said that his team and Chinese scientists will be open to scientific research in future quantum research, just as they had collaborated with German and Canadian scientists after launching Micius. He believed that different countries would also communicate with each other in the development of satellites in the future. Quantum computing will continue to be based on an international cooperation and friendly competition, and will continue to advance.
Dr Christopher Hurley, Head of YCYW’s EdFutures Division, expressed heartfelt gratitude to Professor Xu on behalf of the YCYW Education Network. He thanked Professor Xu for inspiring the students and helping them broaden their knowledge . He also encouraged the students to reflect on how they could change the world to make it a better place.
After the event, Professor Xu commented that YCYW students are full of curiosity and have a keen interest in the future. He noted that some students seem especially curious about physics and new technologies, which is very valuable.
“Aligning with science and technology” is a central element of YCYW’s mission, We are committed to cultivating out students’ interest in and a passion for science and technology. We actively seek opportunities for students to learn about cutting-edge technology For this purpose, YCYW has collaborated with the Hong Kong STEM Education Alliance to support the development of science and innovation education in our schools.
Through the Science and Innovation Lecture programme, YCYW invites well-known scientists to give science lectures to our students and inspire the students’ passion for this field. This initiative provides students with opportunities to connect with the world of scientists, gain insights about their dedication, and understand the latest advancements in scientific research and techniques. The goal is to fuel our students’ inquisitiveness about scientific exploration.