IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


9th July, 2024 Science and Technology


Source: Hindu

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  • The Customs Department's rules on who can and cannot import diamonds are hindering the ₹6,000-crore National Quantum Mission, which aims to position India as a leader in quantum technologies.



  • Diamond Import Restrictions
    • The Customs Department’s regulations on who can import diamonds pose challenges for quantum researchers who require lab-grown diamonds with specific defects.
    • Quantum researchers focus on the "defects" in diamonds, such as nitrogen-vacancy centers, which are crucial for quantum computing and sensing applications.
  • Lab-Grown Diamond Production
    • Despite India's strong position in cutting and polishing natural diamonds, the country is just beginning to manufacture lab-grown diamonds.
    • Indian diamantaires currently lack the capability to produce diamonds with quantum-research-ready defects.
  • Maintaining Qubit States: Maintaining electrons in their qubit-like states in defect diamonds is a significant challenge for developing practical quantum computers.
  • Infrastructure and Expertise: Developing the necessary infrastructure and expertise for quantum technology research and manufacturing is essential for the mission's success.



  • Qubits are the basic units of quantum information, similar to classical bits but with the ability to be in superpositions of 0 and 1 simultaneously.
  • This property enables quantum computers to process information in ways that classical computers cannot.

Defect Diamonds:

  • Defect diamonds are diamonds with specific impurities or defects in their crystal lattice. One common type is the nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center.
  • An NV center occurs when a nitrogen atom replaces a carbon atom next to a vacancy (a missing carbon atom) in the diamond’s structure.

Maintaining Qubit States:

Electron Spin:

  • In an NV center, the electron’s spin states (up and down) can act as qubits.
  • These spin states can be manipulated and measured using light (optical methods) and microwaves.


  • Decoherence: One major challenge is maintaining the coherence of the qubit states, meaning keeping the electron in a superposition state without it collapsing into a definite state due to environmental disturbances.
  • Isolation: Isolating the NV center from its surroundings (like other atoms and magnetic fields) is crucial to prevent decoherence.

Techniques to Maintain Qubit States:

  • Cryogenic Temperatures: Often, experiments are conducted at very low temperatures to reduce thermal vibrations that can disturb the qubit states.
  • Magnetic Shielding: Using materials to shield the NV center from external magnetic fields helps in maintaining the electron’s spin state.
  • Dynamical Decoupling: This technique involves applying sequences of microwave pulses to the NV center to average out the effects of environmental noise, thus preserving the qubit state for a longer time.
  • Purified Diamonds: Using diamonds with very few impurities other than the NV centers helps in reducing unwanted interactions that can cause decoherence.

About the Mission

  • The National Quantum Mission (NQM)of India, approved by the Union Cabinet on 19th April 2023, aims to foster a robust ecosystem for quantum technology research and development with a budget of ₹6003.65 crore from 2023-24 to 2030-31.
  • This mission seeks to position India as a leading nation in quantum technologies and applications (QTA).

Objectives of the National Quantum Mission

  • Development of Quantum Computers
    • Build intermediate-scale quantum computers with 50-1000 physical qubits over 8 years.
    • Utilize various platforms, including superconducting and photonic technology.
  • Quantum Communication
    • Establish satellite-based secure quantum communications over 2000 kilometers within India.
    • Develop long-distance secure quantum communications with other countries.
    • Implement inter-city quantum key distribution over 2000 kilometers.
    • Create multi-node quantum networks with quantum memories.
  • Quantum Sensing and Metrology
    • Develop highly sensitive magnetometers in atomic systems.
    • Create atomic clocks for precision timing, communications, and navigation.
  • Quantum Materials and Devices
    • Design and synthesize quantum materials such as superconductors, novel semiconductor structures, and topological materials.
    • Develop single photon sources/detectors and entangled photon sources for quantum communications, sensing, and metrological applications.


Implementation Strategy

  • Thematic Hubs (T-Hubs): Establish four Thematic Hubs in top academic and National R&D institutes focusing on:
    1. Quantum Computing
    2. Quantum Communication
    3. Quantum Sensing & Metrology
    4. Quantum Materials & Devices
  • Promote the generation of new knowledge through basic and applied research.
  • Encourage R&D in specific mandated areas.

Expected Impact

  • Technological Advancements: Position India as a leader in global quantum technology development.
  • Economic Growth: Drive economic growth through the development of a quantum technology ecosystem.
  • National Security: Enhance national security with advanced quantum cryptography and secure communication networks and protect critical data and communication infrastructure from potential quantum threats.
  • Sectoral Benefits: Benefit sectors such as communication, health, finance, and energy.
  • National Priorities: Boost national initiatives like Digital India, Make in India, Skill India, Stand-up India, Start-up India, Self-reliant India, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

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Q: The National Quantum Mission is a strategic initiative that aims to harness the transformative potential of quantum technologies, ensuring India’s position as a global leader in the development and application of quantum advancements. Discuss. (250 Words)