← Back

News

Thursday, 04 November 2021

2021 BIST Conference: Quantum Technologies, Present and Future

This year’s edition of the BIST annual conference discussed the current state of quantum technologies and the future plans for their development and application, with a special focus on projects ongoing in Catalonia. Representatives of research centres (including the ICN2) and the industrial sector were invited to contribute to the debate.

The 2021 BIST Conference, the fifth annual conference organised by the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST), took place yesterday, 3 November 2021, at La Pedrera Auditorium in Barcelona. Titled “Quantum Technologies: Present and Future”, this year's edition focused on discussing the state of the art and current research on quantum technologies, both internationally and locally, and presenting their many applications.

Quantum technologies are based on the principles of quantum mechanics, a field of study that examines the physical properties of atoms and subatomic particles. Researchers all over the world aim to exploit the behaviour of these tiny particles for applications such as quantum computing, secure communications, data security, quantum sensing, and much more.

The 2021 BIST Conference, which included keynote talks and round-tables, was opened up by Prof. Ignacio Cirac, Director and Scientific Member of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, who gave an overview of quantum technologies and their current development. Two panel discussions about what is being done in Catalonia, both in research and in industry, followed. ICREA Prof. Jordi Arbiol, leader of the Advanced Electron Nanoscopy Group, and Dr Sara Martí Sanchez, postdoctoral researcher in Prof. Arbiol’s group, participated in this discussion, covering the part related to the “infrastructures” for quantum research in Catalonia. They focused their presentation on the METCAM-FIB project (ERDF funds), aiming at creating a platform for microscopy at the ALBA Synchrotron.The conference closed with an inspiring keynote talk by Prof. Spyridon Michalakis, mathematical physicist at Caltech’s Institute for Quantum Information and Matter and science consultant for movies (including Ant-Man and its sequel, coming out in 2023), who talked about the influence of quantum physics in cinema.

The event also includes four satellite sessions: “How to Communicate Complex Scientific Topics” (November 2), “Presenting the research breakthroughs of the next generation of scientific leaders” (November 4), “Wellbeing and mental health in science: towards a more enjoyable research career” (November 5), and “Què són i per què serveixen les tecnologies quàntiques?” (“What are quantum technologies and what are they good for?”, delivered in Catalan for secondary school students and teachers on November 16, in the framework of the Setmana de la Ciència).