The Impact of Spending Cuts on Science and Scienetific Research - Science and Technology Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by Professor Gordon Davies (FC 77)


  1.  Regarding the discussion over assessing the impact of research, please consider the following case.

  2.  There is currently intense interest in "quantum computing", and in related activities in using quantum physics for encrypting data.

  3.  One system that is being investigated seriously for quantum information processing is based on the use of a particular impurity in diamond.

  4.  The structure of that impurity was discovered as a piece of basic, curiosity-driven research by me in 1976 (published in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, series A, vol. 348, pp 285-298).

  5.  In the first five years (a typical RAE/REF period), the work was cited 8 times—not very exciting.

  6.  Thanks to the use of the impurity in quantum information processing, in 2009 alone the work was referenced 27 times, and 68 times in the last five full years. Since its publication, it has been cited in the refereed literature 197 times, which is very respectable. The paper is evidently significant.

  7.  Basic research generates information for the long-term future, as well as training scientists for the immediate future.

Professor Gordon Davies

January 2010

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