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Co-ordinating UK involvement in standards development

The UK National Quantum Technology Programme aims to stimulate market growth, support innovation and grow a thriving ecosystem. A key activity is strengthening our engagement in international standards and benchmarking, and creating the related testing and evaluation capabilities. 

NPL is developing methodologies for the characterisation of quantum technologies. The resulting expertise is invaluable in standards development, particularly for agreeing the test methods needed as the foundation of future product specifications. 

Standards are vital for the quantum industry as they:

  1. Encourage and facilitate trade by providing clarity in transactions between supplier and procurer.

  2. Give agreed meanings for terms used

  3. Establish trustworthy methods for characterisation and benchmarking.

  4. Establish requirements for acceptable performance of products and services. 

Working internationally

Standards, like the technology itself, are developing rapidly in a variety of settings. NPL helps co-ordinate UK involvement in standards development within international standards development organisations including the European-centred standards bodies CEN, CENELEC, and ETSI, and the global standards bodies ISO, IEC and ITU-T.  NPL played a major role in the development of the world’s first quantum technology standard, ETSI GS QKD 011 on component characterisation for quantum key distribution (QKD).

NPL is also working closely with other national metrology institutes, particularly NIST in the US, to foster development of methods for characterisation and benchmarking of the fundamental building blocks of quantum technology. These methodologies will provide the basis for development of international test methods and specifications. 

Working in the UK

In March 2021, NPL and BSI jointly established a quantum standards committee to help coordinate a UK position on standards activity within the UK quantum community. It now has more than 60 members.   

Standards in progress

Within the various international standards development organisations around the world, standards are in development on quantum random number generation, QKD networks, quantum sources and sensors, frequency and timing, and quantum computing. Quantum technologies are being developed and commercialised rapidly, with ambitious targets over the next decade. Standards development will have to keep pace. 

Would you like to speak to our quantum team about standards?

Contact our quantum team

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