Hype is too high on quantum computers: Nobel laureate Serge Haroche
By Gong Zhe

Quantum computing is being over-hyped, said one of the laureates for 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics, French quantum physicist Serge Haroche.

He made the remarks to reporters during his visit to Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen on Monday.

Haroche, together with U.S. physicist David Wineland, found a way to manipulate individual quantum systems, which earned them the Nobel Prize.

Though Haroche's work paved the way for further quantum physics researches, he admitted the application of quantum physics still need a lot of efforts.

He listed some major areas involving quantum physics. "Quantum computing is still preliminary," he said, referring modern quantum computers as toys.

"China is doing a spectacular job in quantum communication," he mentioned the technology that utilizes quantum entanglement theory to transfer data. "But the speed is very slow."

China has built a thousand-kilometer-long quantum network with Micius quantum satellite. But the speed is still slower than a 2G cellphone.

Another area Haroche listed is a quantum simulation, which will lead to more precise atom clocks. These clocks can be used on positioning systems like GPS to increase accuracy. "It is promising," he told reporters.

Huawei R&D spending is "amazing"

Haroche insisted he has no cooperative relationship with Huawei. But after seeing the company's efforts in research and development (R&D), Haroche said he was amazed at how much money Huawei is willing to invest.

"The French government put 2.2 percent of public money into scientific research," he said, "and Huawei is spending 60 percent of the amount."

"Huawei goes from basically nobody to the leader in 5G," he added.

Haroche wished the big tech to invest more in basic science research. "I understand that companies need to spend huge money to do basic science, but it's still more realistic than quantum computing."

Emancipate the mind

Haroche also talked about the research environment in China, which he thinks still has a lot to improve, especially liberating the thoughts of Chinese scientists.

"I'm not in a position to give advice, but I think China's emphasis on publication statistics has gone extreme," he said. "This is unhealthy for scientific researches."

He also suggested China should reconsider the value of seniority in the labs, saying the government should trying giving more space to young scientists.

"Maybe China can try collaborating with other Asian countries," he added.