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DOE Awards UMD $1.5M for Quantum Information Research to Advance Fusion Energy

Can quantum information science help the U.S. realize holy grail of clean abundant fusion energy? QuantumTechnology Center at the UMD gets $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to help pursue this goal


Lee Tune , 301-405-4679


COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Quantum Technology Center (QTC) at the University of Maryland is receiving $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for a project titled “High-Field Quantum Diamond Magnetometers” that is a collaboration with Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spin-out commercializing fusion energy.

The award is part of $11 million in DOE funding for ten projects to be conducted over three years focusing on quantum information science that has applications to fusion and plasma science. Fusion energy is what powers the sun and stars and has long been viewed as the holy grail of energy research because of its potential to provide a clean, safe, and abundant source of energy on earth. Through joint research in fusion energy and quantum information science, these 10 DOE awards are intended to accelerate progress in fusion energy research through advances in quantum information science (QIS) and to advance QIS through groundbreaking techniques enabled by plasma science.

“I’m pleased that the University of Maryland will be receiving new funding from the Department of Energy for projects in fusion energy sciences,” said U.S. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, whose district includes the University of Maryland. “With this funding, the University of Maryland will help lead critical research on fusion energy, which is vital in our work to combat the climate crisis and move our nation toward cleaner sources of energy,” said Hoyer in the DOE announcement.

QIS research explores forms of computing and information processing to bypass “classical” physical limitations by relying on quantum effects. Through joint research in fusion energy and quantum information science, these awards have potential to accelerate progress in fusion energy research through advances in QIS, and to advance QIS through innovative techniques enabled by plasma science.

Led by UMD’s Ronald Walsworth, the founding director of the Quantum Technology Center (QTC) and by QTC Scientist Matthew Turner, the project utilizes advancements in quantum sensing with Nitrogen Vacancy (NV) centers in diamond to enable diagnostic capabilities in extreme environments necessary for practical commercial fusion device operation and other applications using high magnetic fields.

The goal of the project is to develop robust magnetometers, based on quantum defects in diamond, that can operate in the intense environment inside a tokamak fusion device. Arrays of high-field (between 1 and 20 Tesla) magnetometers are necessary for control and performance optimization of fusion plasmas. No existing magnetometers are known to meet the requirements of the extreme radiation, magnetic field, and temperature environment in a tokamak fusion device. Diamond is known to be robust to extreme radiation in other applications and theoretical estimates indicate that the diamond approach will be sensitive enough for the intended fusion applications.

“The DOE grant will enable experimental validation of the high-field quantum diamond magnetometers and demonstration of robustness in extreme environments,” said Walsworth, who is also a Minta Martin Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics.

The QTC project was selected by competitive peer review under the DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement for Quantum Information Science Research for Fusion Energy Sciences and a companion National Laboratory Announcement. View the complete list of projects here.

The Quantum Technology Center (QTC) is a collaboration between the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering and College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences, and the CCDC-Army Research Laboratory. QTC works on translating quantum science into new capabilities and new technologies

Some Fast Facts about University of Maryland Quantum Leadership
  • UMD’s 200+ quantum researchers = one of the greatest concentrations in the world

  • UMD is #2 among public U.S. institutions in quantum physics

  • UMD is in the top five quantum computing research universities in the U.S. and top 12 in the world, according to The Quantum Daily, a quantum computing news website.

  • UMD leads the Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance - a rapidly growing hub of quantum tech/quantum-enabling research, development, innovation and education.
    • 14 Universities

    • 4 Government Labs/Research Centers

    • 12 Companies - including 5 fortune 500 corporations

UMD is home to the Quantum Startup Foundry (QSF) quantum business incubator:

UMD hosts 5 collaborative quantum science and tech research centers: The Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) and the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science (QuICS) are collaborations with the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The Quantum Technology Center (QTC) brings together UMD engineers and physicists to work on translating quantum physics into transformational new technologies. The Condensed Matter Theory Center has made pioneering contributions to topological approaches to quantum computing, and the Quantum Materials Center explores superconductors and novel quantum materials to enable new technology devices.


Energy Quantum Science Research

Areas of Expertise:

Quantum Science

Colleges and Schools:

College of Information Studies

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