A new quantum information technology (QIT) could emerge in the future, based on current research in the fields of quantum information processing and communication1–3 (QIPC). In contrast to conventional IT, where quantum mechanics plays a support role in improving the building blocks, fundamental quantum phenomena play a central role in QIPC — information is stored, processed, and communicated according to the laws of quantum physics. This additional freedom could enable future QIT to perform tasks we will never achieve with ordinary IT.Today many people are familiar with at least the consequences of Moore’s Law — the fastest computer in the shops doubles in speed about every 18 months to two years. This exponential progress, first noted4 by Gordon Moore — cofounder and former CEO of Intel — in 1965, has continued ever since. But it cannot go on forever. Hurdles exist, for example: silicon will hit problems, with oxide thinness or track width5; new materials or even new paradigms, such as self-assembled nano-devices or molecular electronics, will be needed; lots of dollars will be required as Moore’s second law tells us that fabrication costs are also growing exponentially. However, even if the hurdles can be overcome, we will eventually run into nature.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(03)00130-5