West Cork-born scientist to outline the future of technology

West Cork-born scientist to outline the future of technology

University College Cork will tomorrow host an inaugural lecture on the future of computing and technology by a world-leading scientist and West Cork native.

Professor Séamus Davis will outline how the emerging second quantum revolution promises transformative advances in science, industry, economy, and society.

In a joint arrangement between UCC and the University of Oxford, Prof Davis was appointed to spearhead a pioneering research programme to study Quantum Materials for Quantum Technology.

Speaking ahead of his first lecture tomorrow evening at 6pm in the Aula Maxima, Prof Davis explained where quantum technology fits into the history of computing.

“All electronics from the 1910s to the late 1950s were made up of circuits containing valves, filaments and electrodes,” Prof Davis said.

It was assumed that this, which was the very basis for electronics for fifty or sixty years, would always be so. However by the late 1950s, silicon transistors had been invented and within years the valve disappeared, replaced by solid-state circuits and the rest is history.

However, Skibbereen-born Prof Davis said physicists are now examining where computing can go next from silicon. He says Quantum technology is not guaranteed to be that successor but is a candidate.

“Many assumed we would not see quantum mechanics in our own lifetime, but slowly physicists have improved our understanding of it, and now we can make quantum technology devices for processing data and telecommunication. It’s a fundamentally different kind of physics,” he said.

The advent of quantum superconductors may cause concern for some companies - including here in Ireland - that produce silicon-based circuitry and their future viability. However, he emphasised it was one potential outcome that may not come to pass.

Another concern would be the implications for online encryption.

There are disagreements over what the benefits of quantum technology will be but it will have an exponentially faster ability to do some things better than we can now.

“That threatens to break down the present encryption basis of the internet, which has implications commerce-based encryption and national security, as the technology can do some tasks enormously faster,” he said.

He will outline the potential benefits and pitfalls of quantum technology at his lecture . To register email physics@ucc.ie Prof Davis went to primary and secondary school in Skibbereen before studying Physics in UCC, from where he graduated in 1983.

Since then he has spent time at institutions such as the University of California in Berkeley, St Andrew’s in Scotland and Cornell University in New York.

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