Quantum computing R&D alliance aims for breakthrough science

Quantum computing R&D alliance aims for breakthrough science

Technology News |
By Rich Pell

Led by Berkeley Lab and Sandia National Laboratories, the Quantum Information Edge strategic alliance brings together world-leading expertise and capabilities in computer science, materials science, physics, mathematics, and engineering to pioneer practical advances in quantum systems. The alliance, says the organization, will identify the most impactful scientific applications that stand to benefit from quantum computing and engineer the hardware and software systems to run these applications.

“We are at the threshold of significant advances in quantum information science,” says Irfan Siddiqi, director of Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Quantum Testbed and a faculty scientist in the Lab’s Computational Research and Materials Sciences divisions. “To break new ground, The Quantum Information Edge will accelerate quantum R&D by simultaneously pursuing solutions across a broad range of science and technology areas, and integrating these efforts to build working quantum computing systems that benefit the nation and science.”

Using advanced hardware including superconducting circuits and naturally occurring atomic systems, the alliance will explore ways to achieve practical quantum advantage – meaning the systems can outperform state-of-the-art classical methods for important scientific and engineering problems. In addition, says the organization, it will also help grow the workforce needed to keep the nation at the forefront of quantum information science for years to come, share its advances with the broader scientific community to drive the innovation ecosystem, and work with industry to translate promising technologies into real-world applications.

The alliance’s work on programmable quantum systems, says the organization, has the potential to solve scientific problems that are far beyond the reach of today’s machines, in areas such as information processing, simulations, and metrology. It could transform the design of solar cells, new materials, pharmaceuticals, agricultural fertilizers, and probe the mysteries of physics and the universe, among many applications.

To realize this, the alliance will advance quantum information systems using several hardware approaches, including superconducting, trapped ion, and trapped atom quantum bits (or qubits). The alliance will explore how to suppress noise and errors in multi-qubit quantum processors, which severely degrade system performance, develop new computing algorithms to control qubits, and engineer new techniques to fabricate, control, and interconnect qubits. Theoretical computer scientists, physicists, engineers, and chemists will help understand how best to apply these systems to important scientific problems.

John Preskill, the Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology, an alliance member, says, “The quantum processors developed by The Quantum Information Edge will explore the mysterious properties of complex quantum systems in ways never before possible, opening unprecedented opportunities for scientific discovery while also posing new challenges. Our world-class theory team, working closely with the hardware builders, will exploit this powerful technology to advance the frontiers of the physical and computational sciences.”

Jun Ye, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, another alliance member, and a fellow of the National Institute of Standards and Technology adds, “The broad scope of quantum information science and technology demands responses from a diverse set of research groups who will coordinate their scientific visions and technologies to identify and solve practical problems, bring unforeseen benefits, and uncover scientific secrets.”

In addition to Berkeley Lab and Sandia National Laboratories, the alliance includes experts from the University of Maryland, Duke University, Harvard University, University of Colorado Boulder, UC Berkeley, Caltech, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of New Mexico.

Berkeley Lab

Related articles:
Quantum information science research gets $3.5M funding boost
Public input sought on U.S. quantum computing policy
NSF launches project to create first practical quantum computer
DoE to provide $40M to advance quantum computing software

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