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New experiment translates quantum information between technologies in an important step for the quantum internetNew experiment translates quantum information between technologies in an important step for the quantum internet (phys.org) =
A NIOBIUM superconducting cavity. The holes lead to tunnels which intersect to trap light and atoms. Credit: Aishwarya Kumar
Researchers have discovered a way to "translate" quantum information between different kinds of quantum technologies, with significant implications for quantum computing, communication, and networking.
The research was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday. It represents a new way to convert quantum information from the format used by quantum computers to the format needed for quantum communication.
Photons—particles of light—are essential for quantum information technologies, but different technologies use them at different frequencies. For example, some of the most common quantum computing technology is based on superconducting qubits, such as those used by tech giants Google and IBM; these qubits store quantum information in photons that move at microwave frequencies.
But if you want to build a quantum network, or connect quantum computers, you can't send around microwave photons because their grip on their quantum information is too weak to survive the trip.
"A lot of the technologies that we use for classical communication—cell phones, Wi-Fi, GPS and things like that—all use microwave frequencies of light," said Aishwarya Kumar, a postdoc at the James Franck Institute at University of Chicago and lead author on the paper. "But you can't do that for quantum communication because the quantum information you need is in a single photon. And at microwave frequencies, that information will get buried in thermal noise."
The solution is to transfer the quantum information to a higher-frequency photon, called an optical photon, which is much more resilient against ambient noise. But the information can't be transferred directly from photon to photon; instead, we need intermediary matter. Some experiments design solid state devices for this purpose, but Kumar's experiment aimed for something more fundamental: atoms.
The electrons in atoms are only ever allowed to have certain specific amounts of energy, called energy levels. If an electron is sitting at a lower energy level, it can be excited to a higher energy level by hitting it with a photon whose energy exactly matches the difference between the higher and lower level. Similarly, when an electron is forced to drop to a lower energy level, the atom then emits a photon with an energy that matches the energy difference between levels.
Rubidium atoms happen to have two gaps in their levels that Kumar's technology exploits: one that exactly equals the energy of a microwave photon, and one that exactly equals the energy of an optical photon. By using lasers to shift the atom's electron energies up and down, the technology allows the atom to absorb a microwave photon with quantum information and then emit an optical photon with that quantum information. This translation between different modes of quantum information is called "transduction."
Effectively using atoms for this purpose is made possible by the significant progress scientists have made in manipulating such small objects. "We as a community have built remarkable technology in the last 20 or 30 years that lets us control essentially everything about the atoms," Kumar said. "So the experiment is very controlled and efficient."
He says the other secret to their success is the field's progress in cavity quantum electrodynamics, where a photon is trapped in a superconducting, reflective chamber. Forcing the photon to bounce around in an enclosed space, the superconducting cavity strengthens the interaction between the photon and whatever matter is placed inside it.
Their chamber doesn't look very enclosed—in fact, it more closely resembles a block of Swiss cheese. But what look like holes are actually tunnels that intersect in a very specific geometry, so that photons or atoms can be trapped at an intersection. It's a clever design that also allows researchers access to the chamber so they can inject the atoms and the photons.
The technology works both ways: it can transfer quantum information from microwave photons to optical photons, and vice versa. So it can be on either side of a long-distance connection between two superconducting qubit quantum computers, and serve as a fundamental building block to a quantum internet.
But Kumar thinks there may be a lot more applications for this technology than just quantum networking. Its core ability is to strongly entangle atoms and photons—an essential, and difficult task in many different quantum technologies across the field.
"One of the things that we're really excited about is the ability of this platform to generate really efficient entanglement," he said. "Entanglement is central to almost everything quantum that we care about, from computing to simulations to metrology and atomic clocks. I'm excited to see what else we can do."
Europe turbo charges its critical minerals driveColumn: Europe turbo charges its critical minerals drive Reuters
Geothermal water is seen through a sight glass at a pipeline system of a geothermal power station of German power supplier EnBW Energie Baden Wuerttemberg AG, where a pilot facility for lithium extraction will be built, in Bruchsal, Germany, April 23, 2021. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski
LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) - The European Union has unveiled the accelerator in its drive to reduce the bloc's import dependency for critical minerals and metals.
The Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) "will significantly improve" Europe's domestic extraction, processing and recycling capacity for metals such as lithium and rare earths, according to Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission.
The Act comes with targets for production and for reducing dependency on any single third country. China currently dominates the supply chain for many of the entries on Europe's list of "strategic" metals.
The EU is also playing catch-up with the United States, which is already investing heavily in critical metals capacity under the aegis of the Defense Production Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.
Europe may, however, have given itself a competitive edge by moving to streamline project permitting, a tortuous process that often drags on for years before the first shovel hits the ground.
(MOVING) TARGETSThe CRMA covers a subset of the EU's critical minerals list, with particular focus on battery metals like lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese and magnet inputs such as boron and rare earths.
Copper is on the list as an enabler of all things electric but aluminium and zinc aren't, which is a striking omission given the recent shrinkage of European production capacity.
Germany's Speira has joined the list of casualties, this month announcing the full closure of its Rheinwerk aluminium smelter due to high energy costs.
"Today's strategic raw materials list must not be the finished picture," warned Evangelos Mytilineos, president of industry group Eurometaux.
It probably won't be. The CRMA includes a provision for periodically updating the list to reflect evolving economic importance and supply risks across the critical metals spectrum.
For those metals on the list the target is for the region to mine 10%, process 40% and recycle 15% of what it consumes annually by 2030. By which time not more than 65% of any strategic metal's consumption will be able to come from a single third country.
These are ambitious targets given Europe currently sources 97% of its magnesium in China, which also has a complete monopoly on the processing of heavy rare earths and graphite.
Europe's lithium extraction can in theory meet the 10% target but it hinges on multiple new projects, many of them using innovative technology.
Recycling lithium-ion batteries is also a technical challenge that has to be resolved at scale to meet the 15% recycling target.
PERMITTINGIn terms of maximising domestic mining and processing capacity, Europe is following the United States in instructing all national governments to go back and look at what may have been left behind in tailings ponds and historic mine sites.
Operators of existing mines and plants should prepare an economic assessment study of what they're losing in "waste" streams. It's a policy that has already significantly closed the U.S. dependency gap for tellurium and scandium.
However, Europe has overtaken the United States in one key area, aiming to streamline the permitting of "strategic" projects to ensure a maximum time-line of two years for mines and one year for processing plants.
All such projects should be considered as being "in the public interest" by the relevant national authority when considering environmental impact.
The U.S. Administration has come under fire for using the Inflation Reduction Act to incentivise domestic mining while simultaneously blocking development of mines on federal land. The green-on-green environmental clashes seem set to continue until there is a long-overdue rewrite of the General Mining Act of 1872.
COLLECTIVE BUYING AND STOCKPILESMany strategic metals markets are opaque, not easily financially hedged and concentrated on the supply side, according to the CRMA. All of which "increases the negotiating power of sellers and increase prices for buyers".
It calls for the Commission to set up a system for collective purchasing by interested buyers, a mechanism already trialled in the gas market.
It also recommends the accumulation of strategic metal stocks to buffer against unexpected supply disruptions. Europe has no strategic metal inventory, unlike the United States, China and South Korea.
Member states may have their own stockpiles and "as a first step and considering the lack of relevant information", the 27 countries in the bloc should report to the Commission what, if anything, they are holding.
Given such a humble starting point, it seems unlikely EU strategic metal reserves are going to come any time soon, if they come at all.
METALLIC ARMS RACEThe EU accepts it will never be fully self-sufficient in most if any of the metals it's identified as being critical to its industrial and defence sectors.
The CRMA advocates diversifying supply in favour of "reliable partners" and creating "mutually beneficial partnerships with emerging market and developing economies".
It represents a further tectonic decoupling of global supply chains.
What started as a response to China's dominance of critical metals supply has been accelerated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Russia has historically been a major supplier of aluminium, copper and nickel to Europe's industrial sector to the extent that the EU has to date held back from sanctioning Russian material even as the United States imposes penal import duties.
But the metals world is clearly starting to split between West and the East.
It's a messy process, witness the dispute between the EU and the United States over the exclusion of European products from the electric vehicle subsidies introduced in the Inflation Reduction Act.
That particular hurdle may shortly be cleared, German newspaper Handlesblatt reporting that a draft agreement has been reached.
It is evidently in neither side's interest to compete with each other in the context of reducing resource ties with China and Russia.
Assuming future trans-Atlantic harmony can be achieved, something akin to a metallic NATO will start to take ever clearer shape.
BIS Issues Proposed Rule to Establish “Guardrails” to Prevent the Improper Use of CHIPS Act FundingPosted on March 24, 2023POSTED IN BIS, SEMICONDUCTORS, SUPPLY CHAIN
BIS Issues Proposed Rule to Establish “Guardrails” to Prevent the Improper Use of CHIPS Act Funding SmarTrade (thompsonhinesmartrade.com)
On March 23, 2023, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking implementing measures to prevent the improper use of CHIPS Act Incentives Program funding. Described as “guardrails,” the proposed rules are intended to ensure technology and innovation funded by the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) and Science Act are not used for malign purposes by adversarial countries against the United States or its allies and partners. The CHIPS Act was enacted in August 2022 to incentivize the manufacture of semiconductors and semiconductor manufacturing equipment in the United States, especially amid growing national security concerns and economic competition risks posed by China’s increasing chip production in recent years. It provides appropriations to develop domestic manufacturing critical to U.S. competitiveness and national security interests. See Update of July 29, 2022.
The proposed rule provides additional details on national security measures that would be applicable to the CHIPS Incentives Program, including limiting recipients of funding from investing in the expansion of semiconductor manufacturing in foreign countries of concern (i.e., China, Russia, Iran and North Korea). According to BIS, these guardrails “will advance shared national security interests as the U.S. continues coordinating and collaborating with allies and partners to make global supply chains more resilient and diversified.” The proposed rule provides additional details on and definitions for these national security guardrails, including:
Establishing Restrictive Standards and Limiting Facility ExpansionTo protect national security and the resiliency of supply chains, CHIPS Incentives Program funds may not be provided to a foreign entity of concern. The proposed rule provides a detailed explanation of what is meant by “foreign entities of concern,” as well as a definition of “owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of.” The proposed rule defines other terms used in the CHIPS Act (including terms that will be used in required agreements with funding recipients), identifies the types of transactions that are prohibited under the Expansion Clawback and Technology Clawback sections of the CHIPS Act and provides a description of the process for notifying the Secretary of Commerce of significant transactions involving expansion of semiconductor manufacturing in a foreign country of concern.
Classifying Semiconductors as Critical to National SecurityWhile the CHIPS Act allows companies to expand production of legacy chips in foreign countries of concern in limited circumstances, the proposed rule would classify a list of semiconductors as critical to U.S. national security. In doing so, the rule would define “legacy semiconductors” subject to tighter restrictions, which would include “current-generation and mature-node chips used for quantum computing, in radiation-intensive environments, and for other specialized military capabilities.” The proposed rule seeks to also clarify what would not be considered legacy semiconductors.
Reinforcing U.S. Export ControlsIn October 2022, BIS implemented export controls to prevent China from purchasing and manufacturing advanced chips that would enhance that country’s military capabilities. See Update of October 31, 2022. The proposed rule provides definitions that are harmonious with and reinforce these export controls “by aligning prohibited technology thresholds for memory chips between export controls and CHIPS national security guardrails.” Accordingly, the proposed rule applies a more restrictive threshold for logic chips than is used for export controls.
Restricting Joint Research and LicensingThe proposed rule would prohibit during the term of a federal financial assistance award a recipient from knowingly engaging in any joint research or technology licensing with a foreign entity of concern that relates to a technology or product that raises national security concerns. In addition to any foreign entities of concern, the proposed rule would also add entities from BIS’ Entity List, the Treasury Department’s Chinese Military-Industrial Complex Companies (NS-CMIC) list, and the Federal Communications Commission’s Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act list of equipment and services posing national security risks.
Public CommentBIS will accept comments from all interested parties through May 22, 2023 via the federal eRulemaking portal or via email.
This BIS proposed rule seeks to align with similar national security “guardrails” included in the Department of the Treasury’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, also issued on March 23, 2023, that details the Advanced Manufacturing Investment Credit (Investment Tax Credit) administered by the Internal Revenue Service; see separate update here.
U.S. lays out possible critical raw materials agreement with EU -HandelsblattU.S. lays out possible critical raw materials agreement with EU -Handelsblatt (yahoo.com)
FILE PHOTO: Picture shows European Union flags fluttering outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels
(Reuters) - The United States and the European Commission have negotiated a possible agreement to allow for electric vehicles with critical minerals extracted or processed in the European Union to qualify for U.S. green subsidies, Handelsblatt reported on Thursday.
Lithium, manganese, nickel and cobalt - key minerals for battery production - would fall under the agreement and should therefore qualify for subsidies under the U.S. $430-billion Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) package, according to the draft paper seen by German business paper Handelsblatt.
Under the IRA rules, electric vehicles can qualify for subsidies only if at least 40% of the critical minerals within come from the U.S. or a country it has a free trade agreement with.
President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed in early March that the two sides would launch talks on a raw material agreement that would allow vehicles with minerals sourced or processed in Europe to benefit.
A European Commission spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Leslie Adler)
Dig, Dig, Dig: US and Europe Target China’s Grip on Critical Raw MineralsBy Otto LanzavecchiaMarch 23, 2023
Europe and the US share a common goal — increasing self-sufficiency for minerals and tech products needed to fight climate change. Alignment looks set to defuse transatlantic trade tensions.
The European Commission unveiled this month a two-pronged strategy to reduce its dependency on China and boost its green industries. The Critical Raw Materials Act aims to wean the continent off Chinese critical minerals. The Net-Zero Industry Act is geared at boosting the EU’s production of clean tech equipment by a recent decision to relax strict state aid rules.
Together, the proposals represent Europe’s response to the US pressure against China and to compete with protectionist subsidies included in the US’s Inflation Reduction Act. Although a danger remains that the US’s generous pockets and hard-line approach against China will sow discord, these European moves signal a desire to strengthen the transatlantic alliance.
Start back in August 2022, when the US Congress passed the IRA, which contained gargantuan government subsidies to US industries. Europeans were aghast. Confronted with sky-high energy prices and roaring inflation, they could hear a deafening sucking sound of investments leaving the continent and heading across the Atlantic Ocean. The US subsidies jolted European capitals to reconsider their strict limits on state aid, instrumental in building and preserving the European single market.
At the same time, Vladimir Putin’s weaponization of gas exports woke up the continent to the danger of Chinese-supplied critical raw materials and Beijing’s dominance in green industries, such as solar panels and electric car batteries. If China cut sales of these key products, Europe’s plans for its ecological and digital transition would be at risk of collapse — not unlike the United States’.
How could Europeans condemn Americans for steeling themselves against the same threat they faced? The answer to that question challenged the EU’s status quo, and European capitals began tilting westward. In January, while speaking in Davos, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen downplayed frictions over the IRA and stressed the need to “de-risk” vis a vis China.
The Biden administration took constructive steps: it began exploring extending some of the IRA’s benefits to European industries. US Trade Representative Katherine Tai had been urging the EU to develop its own, parallel strategy on subsidies and reshoring, saying that the US wanted to “work with our friends and allies to allow us to together build a resiliency and to wean us off some dependencies.” An agreement on critical raw materials would allow the US to extend the IRA’s reach to European industries, indicated US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. EU countries began to adhere to the US-led Minerals Security Partnership, aiming to create a like-minded critical raw material “buyers’ club” between democratic countries.
The political breakthrough came on March 10. President von der Leyen went to the White House to meet President Biden, while back home her Commission relaxed state aid rules. Afterward, they produced a statement signaling a transatlantic climate truce. And upon her return to Brussels, the Commission launched the two-pronged legislative proposals.
The Net Zero Industry Act aims to ensure that European produces at least 40% of European demand for green products by 2030. EU governments will be able to match subsidies provided in other countries “where there is a real risk of investments being diverted away from Europe,” according to European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.
The Critical Raw Materials Act aims to supply Europe’s green industries with crucial inputs. European mining and refining must cover at least 10% of the EU critical raw materials by 2030. That would be a giant feat for a continent that spent decades outsourcing most of the extraction and production.
Key provisions have China written all over them. If a foreign country has more than 65% of the market, its companies will have little chance of winning a public contract in the EU. For context, Beijing controls more than 80% EU market share in the solar sector.
Permitting will be sped up. It can take up to 15 years to get the green light for a new mining project in Europe. Under the Critical Raw Materials Act, mines designated as strategic must receive a decision on permits within two years.
Critics question whether Europe can achieve its stated goals. Environmentalists have vowed to oppose projects to mine lithium and other minerals, citing the danger to water and nature preserves. Business leaders from Solvay, Merck, and Dow warn that the Net Zero Industry Act offers too little funding and is too complex to compete against the US’s $369 billion of green tax incentives and subsidies.
Even so, the European proposals signal a U-turn in economic policymaking — and a potential transatlantic alignment. On both sides of the Atlantic, the love affair with free markets and globalization is fading. Instead of market-driven decision-making, we are entering an era of strategic planning with democracies moving to onshore and subsidizing critical industries.
The transition will be rocky and perilous. Divergences over how hard to hit China could re-emerge. The US takes a hard line, while European officials continue to consider Beijing both a “rival” and a “partner.” But both Brussels and Washington are working hard not to let their support for green tech deteriorate into a counter-productive and protectionist subsidy race. If they work together, they could shore up the democratic world’s shift to clean tech.
Otto Lanzavecchia is an Italian journalist for Formiche.net and Decode39. He focuses on international affairs, tech and society, energy, and climate change.
Bandwidth is CEPA’s online journal dedicated to advancing transatlantic cooperation on tech policy. All opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or views of the institutions they represent or the Center for European Policy Analysis.
Modelling and experimental investigation of Nb2O5 as a high-rate battery anode materialModelling and experimental investigation of Nb2O5 as a high-rate battery anode material Elsevier Enhanced Reader
Conclusions: A DFN electrochemical model was developed for Nb2O5 as a high-rate battery anode material. The electrochemical performance of a commercial Nb2O material was investigated for model development and physicochemical parameterization. The Nb2O5 material was a mixture of T-Nb2O5 and H-Nb2O5 phases and possessed large-size porous polycrystalline particles in rod and ball structure which were formed by amalgamation of many nano-sized particles.,,,,
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