People, Places, Companies, and Patents
Editors Note: This is the third article in our series about China’s quantum technology activity. You can see our previously articles at How is China Educating a Quantum Workforce? – Part1 and How Much Money Has China Already Invested into Quantum Technology? – Part 2.
By Amara Graps
In an earlier installment, we learned that China has invested at least $25B in quantum technology. Who are their expert human resources, and what and where are their institutions and companies?
Foundation. With the Google Patent record keyword searches: ‘quantum’ 量子 , I found ~71K patents granted from 135,765 applications since 2012. With Google’s ‘top 1000’ slices pointing to the people, institutions, and companies, a picture emerges for the Chinese Quantum Technology Landscape of a tree in a grassy field.
Two caveats: 1) Dual-use quantum technology for military purposes, as discussed in the previous QCR China report, are not well-represented in, either, the patents, or the bibliographic research literature; 2) the entity names for companies are different! For example:
- Chinese name: 科大国盾量子技术股份有限公司 Keda Guodun Quantum Technology Co., Ltd.
- Foreign name: QuantumCTek Co., Ltd.
- Alias: National Shield Quantum 国盾量子,
- Formerly: Anhui Quantum Communication Technology Co., Ltd.,
- The search engine Baidu can help you associate the names.
- Company logos can help you keep track! See Figure 8, for example.
Tree: University of Science and Technology of China (USTC)
The tree is the research scientist Guo Guangcan 郭光灿, (Google Scholar, family name: Guo, b. 1942), senior scientist emeritus, with the tree rooted at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) 中国科学技术大学. Guo Guangcan has been engaged in the teaching and scientific research of quantum optics and quantum information for more than 60 years. His research record, both as a primary and as a co-author, spans the quantum information domain, including: single photon detection, quantum dots, microwave generation, multimode and continuous variable entanglement, NISQ, cloning, teleportation, nitrogen vacancy center in diamond, Bragg solitons, quantum key distribution, long-distance free-space quantum cryptography, quantum memory, quantum logic operations, cold atomic ensemble spin states, Majorana fermions, phonon-phonon interactions, optoelectronic oscillations, quantum edge detection, thermal noise, quantum identity authentication, cavity-QED systems, Bose-Einstein condensates, Kerr combs, superconducting qubits, and device-independent quantum communication.
The branches of Guo Guangcan’s tree are the activities of Guo Guangcan’s and USTC’s protégés. This next generation of quantum researchers, many of whom now have their own students and businesses, were educated at USTC or recruited to return from abroad, through China’s Thousand Talents Plan (TTP), as described in our first installment. Many thanks to this excellent 2018 reference: “Quantum Hegemony” by Elsa B. Kania & John K. Costello, for first highlighting their importance.
The grassy field in China’s quantum landscape is the broad community of quantum dots researchers and teachers and businesses, who are generally aligned with China’s population of science and engineering institutions all over the country.
Together, the Chinese quantum Tree system with branches and roots – Guo Guangcan + USTC’s protégés – and its grassy field –quantum dots – explain China’s present quantum strengths. We’ll explore the percentage split between ‘tree’ and ‘grassy field’ again in a later section.
Guo Guangcan: A Brief History.
In 1960, Guo Guangcan was successfully admitted to the USTC. In his 3rd year of university studies, the USTC opened a compulsory course for the first time – quantum mechanics, taught by Mr. Zhang Jialu, one of the founders of Chinese relativistic astrophysics. That introduction set Prof. Guo’s future course for the next 60 years.
A travel abroad opportunity to Canada in 1981 exposed Prof. Guo to the international quantum information science community. When he returned, he began his quantum optics research. In 1984, he set up his own laboratory, and in 1998, significant Chinese funding enabled him to form a team and recruit members: 50 researchers from inside China, and other researchers from abroad. Pan Jianwei was the first member from abroad, who brought with him, his own team. The focus of Prof. Pan’s team was, and is, quantum communication, especially with quantum satellites.
In previous installment of this series, we focused on the education role of the USTC. However, USTC’s quantum role in China is also significant (this inf.news piece in Chinese) for quantum research, quantum ideation (i.e. patent record), and the core entity from which subsidiaries and spin-off companies were formed. The quantum subfield for which USTC is most known is quantum communication, however their research and spin-offs demonstrate expertise in the other quantum domains, as well.
USTC-related People: (family name first) linking to their CV or research record, with their subsidiaries and spin-offs:
- Guo Guangcan 郭光灿 (Google Scholar/ video interviews) Father of Quantum in China.
- With Han Zhengfu formed 🡪 QASky a quantum communication company.
- With Guo Guoping (no relation of Guo Guangcan) formed 🡪 Origin Quantum a full-stack quantum computing company.
- Kong Weicheng, Guo Guoping’s former student, is Origin’s rotating chairman.
- Pan Jianwei 潘建伟 Quantum Leader. Recruited from abroad.
- With students: Peng Chengzhi, Zhao Yong, formed 🡪 National Shield, a quantum communication company and China’s 1st public quantum company.
- Prof. Pan is now quantum satellite leader and director of CAS Center for Excellence in Quantum Information and Quantum Physics.
- Pan Jianwei also formed, from USTC and CAS 🡪 Guoke Holding with subsidiaries all over China, which owns Quoke Quantum, a quantum satellite company, and National Shield.
- Du Jiangfeng学术搜索 Quantum Leader. Recruited from abroad. Admitted at 16 years old to USTC. Brother of Pan Jianwei.
- With student: He Yu formed 🡪 Guoyi Quantum, a quantum sensing company, with specialty nitrogen-vacancy in diamond.
- Xianmin Jin 金贤敏🡪 former student of Pan Jianwei. Formed 🡪 Turing Quantum, an optical / photonic quantum technology company.
- Fu Yao 富尧 🡪 USTC-educated 🡪 co-founder of Rupan Quantum Technology. She holds the most quantum patents in China.
The companies with their italicized names are full quantum technology companies. I will provide more details inside of a table with China’s 19 quantum companies in a later section.
Other active USTC quantum experts recruited from abroad (family name first) are: Bao Xiaohui, Chen Kai, Chen Shuai, Chen Yu’ao, Lu ChaoYang, Xia Haiyun, Xu Feihu, Zhang Qiang, Zhu Xiaobo.
Before we move on from USTC, we want to learn from the USTC. The USTC are quantum trailblazers with lessons for quantum companies everywhere.
The Scandal that could have broken the Chinese Quantum Technology industry forever (and didn’t): National Shield vs. Kyushu Quantum
If you had the opportunity in 2017 to read the Chinese quantum technology press, then you would not have escaped reading about the sensational actions (China Daily 14 pgs, translated) of Zheng Shaohui (family name first), which eventually led to his resignation from the Hangzhou Yunhong Investment Fund and his April 2018 prosecution. However, the story is larger than actions of one man.
The story involved two quantum technology companies: National Shield, a quantum communication products company formed in 2009, and Kyushu Quantum, a quantum key distribution (QKD) company formed in 2012, one pending IPO and one major quantum communication infrastructure project in the middle 2010s.
As these events took place in the intersections of China’s massively-publicly-funded quantum technology scientific research with industry, in a society of high expectations for quantum technology to lead the world, there are lessons inside for the western world as other countries pin their hopes and on quantum technology too.
Ten years ago, National Shield, USTC’s subsidiary, was placed inside of a country-wide, infrastructure plan to construct a quantum Internet. Quantum communication is China’s most famous Use Case. National Shield was founded on the practical quantum communication technology of Pan Jianwei’s USTC team, and is the largest quantum communication equipment manufacturer and quantum information system service provider in China. As the company was approaching an IPO, a marketing of National Shield’s achievements was undertaken and employees in the company were offered equity incentives.
There were non-disputable agreements through 2015 between the two companies. For the IPO: Kyushu’s holding company agreed to provide funding to National Shield for assisting its IPO objectives, including marketing National Shield. The holding company: Hangzhou Yunhong Investment managed the increased capital (equity loan) through another investment company to nine key company researchers that was to be paid back from the expected increased value of stocks.
The agreement for developing the north-south quantum trunk line was that Kyushu Quantum through its new subsidiary: China Quantum would perform the construction and National Shield would support its operation and commercialization. Both companies would implement quantum mobile communication and payments.
All clear. What wasn’t clear were the relationships and roles between the holding company’s controllers, the shareholders, the company founders and the scientists, who carried, what appeared to be, conflict-of-interest roles. Yet in China’s business environment, these roles are perfectly legal.
Loan murkiness. The holding company: Hangzhou Yunhong, was controlled by Zheng Shaohui and Zang Zhenfu. The company: Kyushu Quantum that purchases the National Shield equipment is also a company under the control of Zheng Shaohui. Hangzhou Yunhong became a shareholder of National Shield to make a loan agreement of 32.34 million yuan ($5M) with the core personnel of National Shield to “encourage long-term and continuous contributions to the development of National Shield.
Essentially, the core National Shield technical and management team borrowed money from shareholders to increase the company’s capital. This action was still perfectly legal. There soon became a disagreement about its loan repayment and debt forgiveness, however.
False advertising. There was also a dispute in the marketing materials developed by Zheng Shaohui for National Shield’s IPO. The text that described personnel and quantum technology achievements included, inaccurately, his own Kyushu Quantum company in the text. This was not a small disagreement, the National Shield IPO went on to become China’s largest first-day trading debut in the history of China’s stock market.
Confusing roles. 1) The largest shareholder in National Shield was Pan Jianwei, whose USTC team provided the main quantum trunk technology, 2) Peng Qingli was another National Shield shareholder, who performed National Shield’s early marketing and was then forming another quantum communication technology company: Rupan Quantum, 3) Chen Zengbing, was a primary member of Pan Jianwei’s USTC team, who was proposed as the Chief scientist of China Quantum (Kyushu’s subsidiary), from which he also held shares, 4) In 2016, the fifth largest customer (4.6 M yuan) of Kyushu Quantum, and the fifth largest supplier (4.6 M yuan): of Kyushu Quantum, were two companies of which the two controllers: Liu Pei and Xia Congjun, were spouses.
From this foundation of confusing roles and disputes, were the Fall 2017 incidents of verbal, violent threats from Zheng Shaohui to National Shield core members, with Zheng’s personal consequences.
Putting aside Mr. Zheng’s verbal threats, the useful lessons I see for the western quantum technology companies are:
- Leading scientists in their spin-offs should be encouraged and compensated for the transferred technologies, with non-risky capital.
- Leading company roles must be transparent and not bordering on conflict-of-interest.
- In particular, Chinese C-level managers are often the research team leaders, who are making quantum breakthroughs.
- Therefore, the CTO, VP strategy, and, if they exist: the Legal/IP, Sales/Marketing, and Education roles can be clearer.
- Shareholders of a company are introducing too much risk to also be lenders to the same company.
- Marketing a company’s merits, especially before an IPO, must contain factual information.
That this story exists in the Chinese press, with China’s strict press control, indicates the depth of China’s commitment to quantum information science for the country’s national strategy (QCR China Part 1). Continued quantum funding (QCR China Part 2) supports China’s commitment. The recent Rand Report on China also suggests sustained Chinese or increased quantum technology funding, in the last years, after the scandal story appeared.
USTC Gender imbalance
A look at the personnel of USTC suggests a gender imbalance that could be improved. We see from the quantum technology Faculty of UTSC that only about 5% are women.
China appears to suffer from an imbalance of diverse STEM workers. The gender statistics from the Ministry of Education (MOE) indicates gender parity with a diverse population going into the universities, but then attrition through the university system. As the MOE statistics lack gender details for the STEM fields, the best way to estimate the gender statistics are the personnel lists in the university departments. A cursory look through STEM personnel at several universities indicates 20%, or less. Quantum technology is another level of attrition.
Therefore, when you discover a Chinese quantum technology leader, who is a woman, it is especially noteworthy.
Trailblazing QKD scientist Fu Yao.
The previous story regarding National Shield vs. Kyushu Quantum answered my own wonderment regarding the holder of the most quantum Chinese patents. With Google Patents “Top 1000 results by filing date”, Fu Yao (family name first), inventor, holds the top position. My curiosity circled around her institution affiliation changes, during the years that she and/or her team were submitting their 341 patent applications (197 granted). According to the story, Kyushu Quantum went through significant personnel changes during that period, with Qingli Peng, National Shield shareholder, forming Rupan Quantum, with Fu Yao as CTO.
In fact, that is exactly what the patent record shows for the assignees for her granted patents:
• 2016: Kyushu / Zhejiang Shenzhou Quantum Network Technology Co., Ltd. 浙江神州量子网络科技有限公司
• 2017: Kyushu / Zhejiang Shenzhou Quantum Network Technology Co., Ltd.
• 2018: Rupan Quantum Technology Co., Ltd. 如般量子科技有限公司
• 2019: Rupan Quantum Technology Co., Ltd. 如般量子科技有限公司 , Nanjing Rupan Quantum Technology Co., Ltd. 南京如般量子科技有限公司
• 2020: Rupan Quantum Technology Co., Ltd. 如般量子科技有限公司 , Nanjing Rupan Quantum Technology Co., Ltd. 南京如般量子科技有限公司
• 2021 Nanjing Rupan Quantum Technology Co., Ltd. 南京如般量子科技有限公司,
• Matrix Time Digital Technology Co., Ltd. 矩阵时光数字科技有限公司 Nanjing University 南京大学
In 2021, Fu Yao’s number of patent applications declined, and she appears to have left Rupan Quantum altogether. This backstory raises my admiration for Prof. Fu, who must have been under considerable pressure. Her new affiliation is Nanjing University. What are her patent topics? Quantum Key Distribution (QKD). Figure 2 is an illustration in word-cloud-form of title segments from Fu Yao’s granted patents.
A Snapshot of Chinese Quantum Communication from the ITU-QIT
The biographies from the attendees of the June 2019 Shanghai ITU Workshop on Quantum Information Technology (QIT) demonstrate the USTC’s dominating Chinese representation, compared to other Chinese quantum communication institutes. From the 2019 attendees list, some other institutions / companies with quantum communication activities are:
Large Companies with nonprimary Quantum Research Departments
- Institute of Quantum Computing, Baidu Research. The Chinese multinational technology company: Baidu has an R&D lab for quantum technology: “Our mission at Baidu Research is to be a world-class Quantum Artificial Intelligence (AI) research strength, and to continuously integrate relevant quantum technologies into Baidu’s core business. “ The research team is led by (family name first) Professor Duan Runyao, who is on extended leave or was, from the Centre for Quantum Software and Information (QSI), Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology (FEIT), University of Technology Sydney.
- Tencent Quantum Laboratory Quantum Computing, Quantum Algorithms, Machine Learning. The research team is led by (family name first) Prof. Zhang Shengyu, Distinguished Scientist in Tencent; former professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), previously a postdoc at Caltech with a PhD from Princeton.
- Alibaba DAMO Academy, Quantum ‘X’ Laboratory. Alibaba Cloud Quantum Development Platform. Quantum processors, quantum memory, and quantum computing systems. The Head of the Quantum Lab is Yaoyun Shi, Formerly Full Professor of Electric Engineering and Computer Science, University of Michigan, Senior Researcher Baidu, Inc., and Postdoctoral Scholar at Caltech.
- Quantum Computing Software HIQ Huawei. Quantum cloud service platform. Quantum simulation.
- The State Grid Information & Telecommunication, China. For the operation of in-China and overseas power and energy assets. More details below.
- Quantum Business Unit, Digital China Information Service Company Ltd. Digital China integrated service provider for the entire financial technology industry chain. Quantum activities include quantum communication on the quantum-encrypted “Beijing-Shanghai Trunk Line”.
- China Unicom. Chinese state-owned telecommunications operator. Quantum activities 🡪 Quantum Communication / Quantum Internet
- ZTE Corporation Partially state-owned technology company in China that specializes in telecommunication. Quantum activities (in Chinese) 🡪 QKD / Quantum Communication / Quantum Internet.
- CAS Quantum Network Co., Ltd . ‘CAS Quantumnet’ Owned by Guoke Holding, a joint spinoff of USTC and CAS. CAS Quantumnet additionally owns National Shield. This is the only item on the list which functions fully as a quantum technology company. Quantum Communication, Quantum satellites.
Universities and Public Institutions with Quantum Research Departments
- National Time Service Center (NTSC) of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), formerly known as Shaanxi Astronomical Observatory, specializes in fundamental research and application study of time and frequency, including quantum clocks. The country’s time-keepers.
- China Academy of Information and Communication Technology (CAICT) is a government funded Think Tank under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) that produces IT policy studies and quantum-related white papers.
- Center for Quantum Information / Quantum Dot Spectrometer Technology Group / Bio and Enviro Analytical Chemistry Group / Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences Tsinghua University. Several quantum technology research groups. Quantum information research directions include: quantum networks, quantum computation, quantum communication, quantum error correction codes, quantum simulation, quantum algorithm and complexity theory, quantum operation, and quantum dots research. There are approximately 1000 quantum-related patents with Tsinghua as an assignee. The BAQIS, formed from Tsinghua University, is described below.
- China Electronics and Standardization Institute (CESI) is a nonprofit institution engaged in standardization, conformity assessment and measurement activities in the field of electronic information technologies, including quantum technology standardization.
- Quantum Photonics group “MaLab” School of Physics. Nanjing University. Experimental quantum communication, simulation and the foundations of quantum physics.
- The Institute of Theoretical and Interdisciplinary Physics, Institute of Optical Science and Technology, and the Wilczek Quantum Center (WQC) of Shanghai Jiaotong University cover the entire range of quantum information science and physics, including: solid-state lasers, advanced photonic material and device physics, novel photo-electronic material, optical information storage, superconductivity in condensed matter, quantum optics quantum field theory, quantum field theory, cold atoms, quark matter, quantum computation, quantum communication, QKD, carbon dots. The institutes have about 300 patents with a 50% application rate, with range of topics as listed above.
State Grid Corporation of China: A force all its own and a quantum tech puzzle
The State Grid Corporation of China 国家电网公司(Baidu / Wikipedia) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of State Grid International for the investment and operation of overseas power and energy assets. It has 896,360 (2021) employees, and its total assets (2021) are $666 billion (2021). It is number 2 on the Fortune 500.
The power assets invested and operated overseas by State Grid International Company cover Asia, America, Europe and Oceania. State Grid International has successfully acquired the National Transmission Network of the Philippines (NGCP), the National Energy Network of Portugal (REN), the South Australia Transmission Network of Australia (ElectraNet), the New Energy State Grid Australia Assets Company (SGSPAA), Australia Grid Corporation (AusNet), Hong Kong Electric Power Investment Co., Ltd. (HKEI), Italy’s National Energy Grid Corporation (CDP Reti), Brazil’s Sao Paulo Electric Light Company (CPFL), Greece’s National Grid Corporation (IPTO), Oman National Grid Corporation (OETC) , Chile’s Chilquinta Group Corporation (Chilquinta) and Chile’s General Electric Company (CGE), through the acquisition of equity interests in 14 power transmission concession companies in Brazil. The asset types are mainly regulated power transmission, distribution, and clean power generation assets, forming an infrastructure asset investment portfolio with diverse geographical fields, stable regulatory environment and controllable business risks.
With such financial resources, it’s surprising that ~100 patents only are quantum technology-related from its 136K granted Patents. Their applied🡪 granted rate is amongst the highest I’ve seen for Chinese quantum patent grants: 73%. Many of the quantum patents have large inventor lists and are granted within a year, sometimes less than 6 months, when the time needed for granting is usually a few years. The topics span the quantum technology range too: QKD, quantum cryptography, quantum error correction and quantum control, quantum sensors, quantum drones, quantum satellites, quantum memory, quantum clocks, quantum algorithms, quantum dots, single photon detectors.
Are there hurdles in the employee process that might impede those quantum technology creatives? If there are, I didn’t find it yet. A job at the State Grid Corporation is a prestigious employment, applications are competitive. Each region throughout the country accepts about 100 new employees every year, after an employee passes a rigorous serious of tests. There are textbooks and courses designed to help you pass; much like the old SAT tests for American universities. The textbook materials cover electricity-related physics and engineering. I didn’t see quantum technology materials however. If that is the one reason that the organization doesn’t go further in its quantum technology activities, then that is an easy problem to fix: improve the education materials.
If that one reason is not the answer, then we have a real puzzle. Here is an organization that operates like a rich country all on its own, with significant infrastructure assets in 14 other countries, which has already 135 thousand patents; An organization, which is inside of a country that has so far invested the most money in quantum tech in the world, but has barely any quantum technology patents of its own. What is going on?
Moving on to the broader landscape of China’s quantum technologies.
China’s Grassy Field: Quantum Dots
My claim: Quantum dots comprise at least half of China’s quantum technology activities and the activities are diffused through China’s population centers.
Proof: Starting point: Google ‘C09K’ quantum dots classification, Top 1000. After extracting the assignees (=245 Institutes / Universities/ Companies / all over China), I sorted the assignees into cities (text file of 245 assignees at my Google Drive) and pinned them on Google Earth. There are 66 cities. See Fig. 3.
What are the cities with the largest number of assignees? Here are China’s cities with quantum dots assignees [in brackets], counted down to six assignees. These cities are also mostly China’s most populous (Wikipedia). There are ‘hills’ of quantum dots expertise in the grassy field, which I’ll identify in the next section.
Beijing ; Shanghai ; Nanjing ; Shenzhen ; Wuhan ; Guangzhou ; Suzhou ; Chongqing ; Xi’an ; Xiamen ; Zhejiang ; Anhui / Hefei [ 6]
Chinese Quantum Dots Skillsets are at least 50% from the Patent record
From the patent record, a scan of patent titles can determine the quantum subfield. Academic institutions are often mixed in quantum technology sub-fields, which will need your rough estimates for percentage of quantum communication, quantum dots, and quantum ‘other’. The following is not rigorous, but it suggests a division-of-capacities in quantum technology in China. Large companies are more invested in the patent system for their businesses, and quantum dots are a deeply integrated part of Chinese companies like BOE and TCL, which focus on digital displays.
Moreover, you can ‘hack’ the Google 1000 selected algorithm, to partially filter the assignees, which are in industry versus those in public institutions. With all settings fixed on the Chinese language and from the Chinese patent office,
- Choose the keyword: 量子, which is Chinese for quantum, 🡪 slice of 1000 results are dominated by (Chinese) academic institutions.
- Result: Quantum Communication: 16%. Quantum Dots: 72% Quantum Other: 12%
- Choose the keyword ‘quantum’, yes, English, 🡪 slice of 1000 results are dominated by (Chinese) companies.
- Result: Quantum Communication: 31%. Quantum Dots: 58%. Quantum Other: 11%.
About the hack: As the Google Patents ‘1000 algorithm’ is not public; perhaps the search is picking up occasional non-Chinese ‘Cited by’ or non-Chinese Reference Lists to dramatically skew the results. So it is an unexpected feature that we can use to filter academic versus industry results.
Some Chinese Quantum Dots Companies and Skillsets from the Patent record
BOE Technology Group Co., Ltd. 京东方科技集团股份有限公司
This company is a standout in the patent record ‘1000 results’ in both instances of the hack described above with a top percentage close to 3% of the quantum ‘1000 patents’. They have at least a 30% granted patent rate from their applications, which are often filed for USA: ‘US’ and world patents: ‘WO’, too. Their patents are reasonably well-cited. Their Vice president: (family name first) Dong Xue 董学 is the primary patent inventor.
The company was founded in 1993, and is an IoT company that provides smart port products –electronic displays– and professional services for information interaction and human health. Their port device products are widely used in mobile phones, tablet computers, notebook computers, monitors, TVs, vehicles, wearable devices and in other fields.
BOE has factories in Beijing, Hefei, Chengdu, Chongqing, Fuzhou, Mianyang, Wuhan, Kunming, Suzhou, Ordos, and Gu’an. Their move to Hefei is a source of local pride according to this SOHU media report. In the middle 2010s, BOE faced financial difficulties with the price cuts by non-Chinese LCD giants. The result of moving to Hefei and investing in their new factory was a win-win, for both the Hefei government and for BOE, according that report. If you want to see BOE’s Hefei factory, a satellite view is here from Google Earth / Maps.
BOE in 2020 debuted an active-matrix quantum dot light-emitting diode (or AMQLED) technology. BOE quickly improved their AMQLED technology, and released the world’s first 55-in, 8K display, in San Jose, California, in May at SID Display Week 2022.
Najing Technology纳晶科技 and Mesolight 苏州星烁纳米科技有限公司
These two Chinese quantum dot companies: Najing Technology (registered: Nano Crystal Technology Co., Ltd, Hangzhou, 2009) and Mesolight (registered: Suzhou Xingshuo Nano Technology Co., Ltd, Suzhou, 2012) are fully quantum technology entities, with an interesting backstory at the University of Arkansas.
The scientists-CEOs of these two Chinese companies: (family names first), Wang Yunjun (Mesolight) and Peng Xiaogang (Najing Tech) both spent some years in Arkansas: Peng: 1999-2009, and Wang, at least in 2004, as founder of a startup of the same Mesolight name in Little Rock, Arkansas. A third Chinese researcher: Min Xiao, has been affiliated with the University of Arkansas since at least 1990. Prof. Min added an adjunct position at the Nanjing University in 2010, to his University of Arkansas tenured position. Earlier in 2004, the three collaborated on their quantum dots research; other research indicates their collaborative efforts since then.
Patentable, quantum dots technology was discovered from their Arkansas quantum dots collaboration, from which Mesolight and the University of Arkansas own or owned patents. Wang Yunjun won a $750K grant almost 20 years ago, which was the basis for the formation of the US Mesolight company. The Chinese Mesolight company now has 100+ Chinese quantum dots patents, and has gone on to become a successful SME. See the company’s quantum dot activities: 3 minute video / 2015 trade journal article. In January 2022, the company completed a tens of millions yuan funding round.
Peng Xiaogang is also a Chinese quantum dots leader. He co-founded his company Najing Technology in the same year: 2009, as he joined the Department of Chemistry at Zhejiang Univ. His company: Najing Technology, has about 110 patents. In this 2018 National Science Review interview, Prof. Peng stated that Najing Technology purchased all of his key invented US patents, with US government permission. Prof. Peng has in addition, his own research group at Zhejiang University– see their very good quantum dots review. I note that his group has a much better gender balance than USTC.
Qi-Kun Xue and the Beijing Academy of Quantum Information Sciences: BIQIS
Prof. Xue Qiqun (family name Qiqun or Qikun 薛其 坤), in his sixth decade, is a Chinese quantum technology leader, especially noteworthy for his 500+ papers research record, persistence and unique quantum path that did not journey through the USTC. His path demonstrates that you can land on the quantum path at later times in your career.
He was educated in China, up to his PhD in condensed matter, then worked in a series of postdocs first in China, then abroad as a postdoc in Japan, and North Carolina (USA). He attempted three times in seven years to pass the China Academy of Science CAS postgraduate exam, succeeded on this third try, and his career progressed onward and upward in Chinese research. First through CAS, then he moved to Tsinghua University, where he performed research and management successively up to the role of Vice President of Tsinghua University. His research interests include quantum size effects in various low-dimensional structures. At the age of 50, his research group found experimental proof for the quantum anomalous Hall Effect. He co-founded the Division of Quantum State of Matter of BAQIS, the Beijing Institute of Quantum Information Science in December 2017. In 2020, he became President of Southern University of Science and Technology in China.
BIQIS is quantum science resource worth mentioning for those interested outside of China too. BIQIS is a research institution initiated by Beijing Municipal Government and co-founded with Tsinghua University, Peking University, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and other entities. BAQIS encompasses five major research fields: quantum state of matter, quantum computation, quantum communication, quantum materials and devices and quantum precision measurement. BIQIS has ~100 Researchers , ~60 Engineers, and about ~70, Postdocs.
BIQIS has an excellent International online Forum: “Baiwang Forum“, which are high level quantum science talks (Videos) of about 60-120 min each. BIQIS’ Quantum Computing News is well curated with topics: NV in Diamond, Superconducting Computing Entanglement, Topological, Majorana computation, Quantum secure direct communication, Trapped Ions, Hybrid quantum computing, Magnetoelectric memory devices, Quantum Chemistry Simulations. BIQIS also has a quantum computing cloud platform
Quantum subfields from analysis of the Chinese Research Record
A Bibliometric Analysis of China’s Quantum Technology
In this excellent Bibliometric Analysis by Scheidsteger et al, 2021, which surveys the Quantum Technology field via 54,598 (1980-2018) research papers from the Web of Science a) over time, b) by keyword and c) by countries, we can visualize China’s strengths. The study uses the top 100 quantum keywords and divides those in sub-fields (i) quantum information science; (ii) quantum metrology, sensing, imaging, and control; (iii) quantum communication and cryptography; and (iv) quantum computation. A co-occurrence map of the top 25 quantum research countries with at least 400 occurrences of those top keywords, can illustrate a country’s strengths. See the paper for more details regarding the classification of Quantum Technology 2.0 (QT 2.0) and the overlapping classifications. Using the authors’ live link, here are China’s Strengths.
- Blue: Q COMM (Quantum Communication and Cryptography). Channels, Q_teleportation, Scheme, Entangled_state, Theorem, Purification, Bell_theorem, Protocol, Q_cryptography Security, Communication, Q_communication, Key_distribution, Q_key_distribution, Network, State
- Yellow: Q_INFO (Quantum Information Science and Quantum Tech in General). Information, Q_information, Q_entanglement,
- Purple: Q_OPTICS. Optics, Cavity, Atom, Photon, Light
- Red: Q_METR (Quantum Metrology, Sensing, Imaging and Control). Phase, System, Qubit
- Green: Q_COMP (Quantum Computing). Computation, Q_Computation, Coherence, Gate, Algorithm, Q_computing
Compared to the USA:
- Blue: Q COMM (Quantum Communication and Cryptography). State, Quantum
- Purple: Q_OPTICS. Atom, Light, Photon,
- Red: Q_METR (Quantum Metrology, Sensing, Imaging and Control). Spin, Dot, Dynamics, Resonance, Dynamics, Spectroscopy, Phase, Field, Laser, Spectroscopy
- Green: Q_COMP (Quantum Computing). Q_error_correction, Coherence, Model, Computation, Q_computing, Q_computation, Algorithm, Logic, Computer
By comparing the figures Fig. 6 to Fig. 5, of the strengths of the USA to China, we see significantly less quantum communication and quantum cryptography (usually called post-quantum cryptography), in the US by the authors’ scale, no quantum information science and general quantum technology, and significantly less quantum optics and quantum memory using photons. However, the USA has significantly more quantum metrology, sensing, imaging and control and quantum computing.
The authors’ radar charts in their paper’s Fig. 4, reproduced below in Fig. 7, also addresses the large difference in quantum communication and cryptography between the two countries: USA and China. In China, generally QT 2.0 is strong, with quantum communication particularly noteworthy. Quantum dots would be represented inside of the overall QT 2.0 blue line, or the newest Q_OPTICS purple subgroup above, which isn’t reproduced in the radar plot. The authors additionally point out the lower ranking of China’s research papers in the Web of Science compared to the USA.
From the Chinese Quantum Bibiographic view, let’s finish with a snapshot of the companies in China, growing continually, which provide only quantum technology services or products. There are at least nineteen companies, for which I’ve provided a compilation of logos in Figure 8. Table 1 lists their basic information. Any one of these could be described in an article on its own, but that’s for the future.
Full Quantum Technology Companies in China
July 4, 2022