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Washington Watch: Biden brings key quantum tech group under White House authority, with hopes for faster EV charging and more

President Biden will exercise White House authority in speeding up the quantum technology it hopes can allow Americans to charge their electric vehicles faster and foster other breakthroughs in cutting-edge computing.

Biden on Wednesday will sign an executive order to place the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee, the federal government’s principal independent expert body for quantum information science and technology, directly under White House authority.

This “ensures that the president, Congress, federal departments and agencies, and the general public receive the most current, accurate and relevant information on quantum information science and technology to drive forward U.S. policymaking and advance our technological edge,” the White House said.

“While quantum information science is not new, recent breakthroughs in QIS have shown the potential to drive innovations across the American economy, from energy to medicine, through advancements in computation, networking and sensing,” it added.

Quantum computing harnesses the collective properties of quantum states, such as superposition, interference and entanglement, to perform calculations. One use of the technology, though not yet at scale, can improve the battery technology used in EVs
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Currently, most electric options take about 10 hours to fully recharge at home. Even the fastest superchargers at the charging stations require up to 20-40 minutes to fully recharge the vehicles, bringing additional costs and inconvenience to the customer and seen potentially slowing adoption of EVs from traditional gas-engine autos.

Read: EVs can store power for our homes and the grid: Why ‘vehicle-to-everything’ technology is a must-follow investing theme

The concept of a “quantum battery” was first proposed in a scientific paper published in 2012. It was theorized that quantum resources, such as entanglement, can be used to vastly speed up the battery charging process by charging all cells within the battery simultaneously.

Researchers also suggest that quantum technology may find key uses in future fusion nuclear power plants, which require large amounts of energy to be charged and discharged instantaneously. Sustainable fusion is a still-developing commerical energy source, perhaps at least a decade away, by some estimates.

Nuclear fusion is the process of fusing two or more atoms into one larger one, a process that unleashes potentially usable energy as heat. Nuclear power used today is created by a different process, called fission, which relies on splitting atoms and harnessing that energy. A major development in fusion was announced in Europe earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Biden will also sign a National Security Memorandum outlining the administration’s plan to address the risks posed by quantum computers to America’s cybersecurity.

Research shows that at some point in the not-too-distant future, when quantum computers reach a sufficient size and level of sophistication, they will be capable of breaking much of the cryptography that currently secures digital communications on the Internet.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology will publish new quantum-resistant cryptographic standards that can protect against these future attacks.

“However, the process to transition America’s most vulnerable IT systems to these new standards will take time, resources and commitment,” the White House said.

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