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UMD Part of New U.S. Alliance for Quantum Information

January 3, 2020

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland is part of a new nationwide alliance of U.S. national labs, universities and industry launched to advance the frontiers of quantum computing systems to solve urgent scientific challenges and to maintain U.S. leadership in next-generation information technology.

The Quantum Information Edge strategic alliance is led by two of the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and Sandia National Laboratories. Leading universities participating in the alliance include the University of Maryland, Harvard University, University of Colorado Boulder, UC Berkeley, Caltech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of New Mexico. 

This partnership brings together an unprecedented breadth of world-leading expertise and capabilities in computer science, materials science, physics, mathematics, and engineering to pioneer practical advances in quantum systems. 

Distinguished University Professor Christopher Monroe. Photo credit John Consoli University of Maryland“We will continually build and use full quantum systems, not just the components, to forge new scientific opportunities in information processing that are not possible in conventional research programs,” said Christopher Monroe, a Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, a fellow in the UMD-based Joint Quantum Institute (JQI). Monroe also is co-founder and chief scientist for the quantum computing startup IonQ, a key competitor in the race to bring general-purpose quantum computers to market.

UMD, which is ranked No. 6 in quantum and atomic physics by U.S. News & World Report, hosts five collaborative research centers focused on different aspects of quantum science and technology: 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) focuses UMD engineers and physicists 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 new quantum materials to enable new technology devices.  The University also has related research collaborations with the Army Research Laboratory.

As announced in a recent Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory news release, the goal of the new Quantum Information Edge alliance is to identify the most impactful scientific applications thatstand to benefit from quantum computing and to engineer the hardware and software systems to run these applications. 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. 

“We are at the threshold of significant advances in quantum information science. 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,” said Irfan Siddiqi, director of Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Quantum Testbed and a faculty scientist in the Lab’s Computational Research and Materials Sciences Divisions.

Scott Collis, director of Computing Research at Sandia said, “Through collaboration and innovation focused on tangible technology demonstrations, the Quantum Information Edge will amplify the return-on-investment of quantum research within the U.S. by accelerating progress towards achieving practical quantum computing systems.” 

The team 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 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 make this a reality, 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, and will 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.