Letter from the director

Sometimes we need to take stock of where we are and how we got there, before we start the next stage of a journey. The Centre for Quantum Technologies is at such a moment.

In December 2022, CQT turned 15 years old. We had plenty to celebrate – not just our scientific achievements (2,596 papers and counting) and the people we’ve nurtured (including 100 PhD graduates and another 84 enrolled) – but the kindling of a quantum ecosystem in Singapore.

Like in other countries around the world, there is growing attention from industry sectors ranging from finance to defence. We applaud the quantum startups founded by our staff and alumni and the public-private partnerships forged in the national quantum platforms.

But it’s a time of transition for us too. We have maxed out the lifetime allowed for a Research Centre of Excellence (RCE) under Singapore policies. When CQT was established in 2007, it was the first such RCE in the country, as well as being one of the first centres dedicated to quantum technologies in the world.

As an RCE, we have offered researchers a strong community, long-term funding and dedicated admin support. We encouraged our Principal Investigators to do basic science, as well as empowering them to do translation when it suited their work. We built an international reputation.

For CQT to continue on a successful trajectory, we want to keep these same ingredients. We now have a two-year bridging grant, and we’re involved in shaping a national quantum strategy for Singapore that will set out plans for our future.

I did not witness the start of CQT, but I’ve heard stories. My predecessor Artur Ekert, who became CQT’s Founding Director, came to Singapore in 2000 to speak about quantum computing at a Millennium Conference on Frontiers in Science.

As he tells it, during that visit he enjoyed a long conversation with Tony Tan, who was then Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence (and would in future be Chairman of the National Research Foundation and then President of Singapore). He also got to know a small group of local theoretical physicists who were excited about quantum information.

Momentum built from there. Artur accepted a local professorship and joined forces with these physicists. They won a small grant that attracted more researchers. Then came the successful RCE application. The team crafted policies for this wholly new kind of centre, and the science got underway.

There are parallels for our circumstances now. We need a combination of top-down understanding and bottom-up enthusiasm to chart the next phase of CQT. I believe we have both. The path ahead will not always be smooth, but we are prepared and raring to go.

José Ignacio Latorre

This view was first published in the CQT 2022 Annual Report. Read our annual reports here.

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José Ignacio Latorre was appointed Director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies in July 2020. He is also Professor in the National University of Singapore's Department of Physics. A leading figure in particle physics and quantum information, José Ignacio joined CQT, NUS from the University of Barcelona. He has been heading a research group at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center to build the first quantum processor in Spain. José Ignacio is also the founder of the Centro de Ciencias de Benasque Pedro Pascual, a Spanish scientific facility that is well known in the quantum information community for hosting workshops and conferences.

José Ignacio Latorre
+65 6516 5102