Message for students 2022:Yuya Kano
January 31, 2022
Solving Social Problems with Quantum Computers
System Platform Research Laboratories
Kano was fascinated by quantum computers and their potential impact on society in a seminar that he attended at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research, which is the world’s largest particle physics laboratory) in Switzerland during his PhD course. After his term in graduate school as a postdoctoral researcher, he joined NEC in June 2021.
Joined NEC for quantum computers
Up to my university years, I studied in a totally different field of science from what I do now. Originally, I majored in physics and went on to my PhD course in physics. Then, when I was staying for research at CERN in Switzerland, the largest particle physics laboratory in the world, I had the opportunity to participate in a seminar about quantum computers in 2017. Back then, quantum computing was a hot topic in both the academia and the business world. I also was fascinated by quantum computers, learning how interesting it is and the significant impact it can have on society.
I also had the impression that if I wanted to work on quantum computers, NEC is where I should go. In fact, NEC has a long history of quantum computing research, being the first in the world to achieve an operational demonstration of quantum bits using a superconducting device in 1999 and producing the world’s first research results with superconducting parametron devices in 2014. Quantum computing is a very multi-dimensional field that requires a diverse range of technologies, including hardware, integrated circuits, superconducting devices, computers, software, and statistical analysis of data. NEC has a large number of researchers with such expertise and takes on research with its own unique approach, giving me the impression that it is an organization closing in on the materialization of this technology. When I was looking for a job after completing my term as a postdoctoral researcher, my hope to be a part of NEC’s quantum computer R&D team grew, and thus I decided to join the company.
Quantum computer R&D takes place in a collaborative lab with AIST
I currently belong to the NEC-AIST Quantum Technology Cooperative Research Laboratory, which was jointly established by NEC and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture. I am working on the research and development of quantum computers, in particular with quantum annealing machines. My primary engagement is the development of their core—a superconducting quantum device—and its control system.
Quantum computers are next-generation computer technology that is based on quantum physics and has the potential to overcome problems that are difficult for current computers to solve. NEC is developing a quantum annealing machine, which is a type of quantum computer that is expected to solve problems called “combinatorial optimization problems” in exponentially shorter time. This is said to have a huge impact on society, for example, in areas such as logistics and drug development.
Through super-high speed combinatorial optimization that sharply surpasses conventional computers, quantum computers are expected to facilitate digitization and cause other changes to the society in many different aspects of everyday life, for example, an optimized transportation service, urban development, customized provision of products, ideal engineering and product making, and reduction in risks of and concern for medical conditions.
For the solution to real problems that the society needs solved, a quantum annealing machine must be greater in scale, which is what we are working on. Among other things, the scaling up of quantum devices critically requires a system that controls them with high precision. Leveraging the latest electronic circuit technologies, we aim to establish technologies that control quantum devices with high precision and speed.
The collaborative development with AIST is a great environment in terms of creating synergy by combining the respective strengths of NEC and AIST. As quantum computing is an interdisciplinary field of R&D, some aspects are difficult to achieve with NEC alone. In pursuing social implementation, we need to become a hub that connects together a variety of research institutes and enterprises.
A well-balanced research environment fosters cultivation of young researchers
While I have only spent six months at NEC as of today, I realized that, through working with NEC, this company places a heavy emphasis on the development of innovative technologies. I also feel that NEC has an excellent balance of academic and social contributory properties: on one hand it focuses on technologies that are useful to society and what it can do to develop technologies that can be implemented in society, while on the other hand it takes part in the academic circle through conference presentations and publications in journals.
The section I work for hosts a number of experts in different fields, and they are highly skilled and devoted to research. In such a wonderful environment, I also am very inspired in working on research and development. Meanwhile, in my team, research activities are conducted not individually, but jointly with active discussion. The stance of producing results through teamwork also characterizes our team.
I have just only started research in the quantum computer segment, but I hope to one day complete a quantum annealing machine and deliver practical devices to customers. This research has a very long time span, but I aim to accelerate the R&D. On the other hand, this area is in constant need of new talented people, so I hope to equip myself well with more knowledge and skills and become a researcher who can also take part in cultivating younger researchers.
- ※The information posted on this website is the information at the time of publication.
A day at work
Message to my past self in my school days
I often play online boardgames with a good friend of mine. We play mystery games or go out for escape room games. Recently, I have been enjoying playing chess and hanafuda card game with my wife. On weekends, I may go to a nearby park or river to read books. I read textbooks about quantum computing theory and technology. It is a very interesting field of study, enlightening and entertaining me at the same time.