Whether it was the theory of gravity or relativity, new concepts in physics tend to start out as seemingly unbelievable before they become widely accepted and are translated into world-changing technologies. Quantum physics is the latest such theory to slowly move into mainstream consciousness. Quantum physics deals with such strange phenomena as quantum entanglement – the fact that the states of two particles can be connected, or entangled, even when they are a galaxy apart. Scientists and engineers have spent the past decades trying to create applications from this knowledge, but in the past years, innovation in quantum communication and quantum computing has picked up breath-taking speed. Jian-Wei Pan, Professor of Physics at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, is one of the leading pioneers in the relatively young field of quantum technology. In 2016, he led the efforts of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to successfully develop and launch the first-ever quantum science satellite, Micius (named after a Chinese philosopher), into space – used to facilitate experiments on quantum key distribution, entanglement distribution, and quantum teleportation over unprecedented distances. At Falling Walls, Jian-Wei explains how his satellite project is another step closer to a new class of technologies that will fundamentally disrupt the way we process and transport information.
University of Science and Technology of China
Jian-Wei Pan, born on 11 March 1970, received his Bachelor (1992) and Master (1995) in Physics from the University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, and his PhD (1999) from the University of Vienna. Since 2009 Pan is an honorary professor of the University of Heidelberg. He is currently a Professor of Physics of the University of Science and Technology of China, an Academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and a Fellow of the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS). He serves as the Director of the CAS Centre for Excellence and Innovation in Quantum Information and Quantum Physics, and the Chief Scientist for the Quantum Science Satellite Project, and the Beijing-to-Shanghai 2000-km Quantum Communication Backbone Project.