Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Turning Quantum Strangeness Into Nanoscale Investing

I attended a Wonderfest scientific talk last night on "quantum strangeness" in a Tenderloin bar called PianoFight.  The combination of tiny performance space, watering hole, and thought leadership nexus on the edge of an ungovernable neighborhood meets my definition of a fun night.  Quantum mechanics is a fascinating topic, and I can't do it justice by repeating scientific ideas here.  The implications for real-world investing could be tremendous.

Nanotech sometimes exhibits quantum-like expressions, so further research in quantum behavior helps define the practical uses of nanotech.  Nanoscale engineering is already attracting investment.  Tech at that scale has proven its value in the oil/gas sector and in biotech.  SQUID sensors have been around for decades and are gradually finding wider applications.

The nations that take an early lead in quantum research now will own the nanotech future.  StatNano showed the US holding the patent lead in 2013, with more nanotech patents than the rest of the world combined.  Checking out the rest of StatNano's data on the US shows our country close to the top for human capital and investment.  The US's National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) is our plan for ultimate triumph.

The NNI website includes links to the federal government's tech transfer initiatives.  It would be totally awesome if NNI could leverage the NSF's I-Corps.  NSF is certainly tracking NNI.  It's great to see my state of California leading the pack of links on NNI's state resources list.  We don't call ourselves the Golden State for nothing.

The finance and telecom sectors already use quantum key distribution for data security.  Quantum computing is still in development; one guy showed me a prototype of a quantum processor a few years ago and it looked like a broadband modem with no portals.  The mature versions of these processors will obliterate Moore's Law in computing.  I will be watching the federal government's tech transfer pipelines for quantum tech that deserves commercialization.  University research partners here in California that share in the NNI's research budget will also be on my radar.