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US DOE to award $625M for Quantum Information Science Research Centers; Argonne quantum loop testbed

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $625 million (DE-FOA-0002253) over the next five years to establish two to five multidisciplinary Quantum Information Science (QIS) Research Centers in support of the National Quantum Initiative.

The National Quantum Initiative Act, signed into law by President Trump in December 2018, established a coordinated multiagency program to support research and training in QIS, encompassing activities at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation. The Act called for the creation of a total between four and ten competitively awarded QIS research centers.

The DOE’s planned investment in QIS Centers represents a long-term, large-scale commitment of US scientific and technological resources to a highly competitive and promising new area of investigation with enormous potential to transform science and technology.

The aim of the Centers, coupled with DOE’s core research portfolio, is to create the ecosystem needed to foster and facilitate advancement of QIS, with major anticipated benefits for national security, economic competitiveness, and America’s continued leadership in science.

Each QIS Center is expected to incorporate a collaborative research team spanning multiple scientific and engineering disciplines and multiple institutions. Centers will draw on the resources of the full range of research communities stewarded by DOE’s Office of Science and integrate elements from a wide range of technical fields.

Each Center must integrate sub-topics from at least two of the following Technical Areas of Interest.

  • Quantum Communication

    • Requirements for scalable and adaptable quantum network infrastructures designed to support the transmission of diverse types of quantum information

    • Fundamental limits on information transfer in quantum systems

    • Communication techniques and tools exploiting entanglement

    • Test facilities to support network development and test

  • Quantum Computing and Emulation

    • System architecture selection and optimization for problem domains studied by SC-supported investigators

    • Qubit device requirements to match architectural plans

    • Development of novel and improved algorithms and programming paradigms for selected architectures

    • Programmable modular quantum emulator development addressing uses for SC- supported researchers (incorporating requirements input from all SC offices), including analog simulators

    • System integration of emulation, quantum communication, and quantum compute systems from device/array level up

    • Testbeds for performance measurement and algorithm development; modeling and integration of computing/communication

    • Fundamental limits of quantum computation

    • Capabilities, limitations, and new approaches with respect to error correction

  • Quantum Devices and Sensors

    • Development of requirements for qubit devices for quantum sensor and detector applications

    • Development of devices to meet quantum communication or quantum computation application requirements

    • Progress on quantum-enabled imaging devices and systems, such as for soft-matter imaging, magnetic mapping, or improved microscopy

    • Development of integration, interface, transduction, and control schemes for quantum device arrays

    • Improving device coherence, qubit lifetime, and other performance parameters

    • Modeling of device and controls performance

    • Synthesis and fabrication of engineered quantum devices

  • Materials and Chemistry for QIS Systems and Applications

    • Requirements for materials research for quantum communication, computing, emulation, sensing, and imaging applications

    • Fundamental theory of materials and molecular systems for quantum applications

    • Research leading to materials and molecular systems that control quantum phenomena to meet quantum communication, computation, and sensor requirements

    • Fundamental research on device physics for next generation QIS systems, including interface science and modeling of materials performance

    • Synthesis, characterization, and fabrication research for quantum materials and processes, including integration in novel device architectures

  • Quantum Foundries

    • Synthesis of quantum materials, structures, and devices with atomic precision

    • Fabrication and integration of photon, superconducting, spin and other qubit systems

    • Advanced instrumentation and tool development for quantum computers, sensors, and metrology

    • Facilities to support device test, packaging, and integration

Applications are expected to be in the form of multi-institutional proposals submitted by a single lead institution. Eligible lead and partner institutions include universities, nonprofit research institutions, industry, DOE national laboratories, other US government laboratories, and federal agencies.

Total planned funding will be up to $625 million for awards beginning in Fiscal Year 2020 and lasting up to five years in duration, with outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations. Selections will be made based on peer review.

Argonne quantum loop. Scientists from DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago last week launched a new, 52-mile testbed for quantum communications experiments, which will enable scientists to address challenges in operating a quantum network and help lay the foundation for a quantum internet.

The Argonne quantum loop consists of a pair of connected 26-mile fiber-optic cables that wind circuitously between Argonne to the Illinois tollway near Bolingbrook, IL, and back. At 52 total miles, it is currently among the longest ground-based quantum communication channels in the country.

The loop will serve as a testbed for researchers interested in leveraging the principles of quantum physics to send unhackable information across long distances. Researchers at Argonne and UChicago plan to use the testbed to explore science underlying quantum engineering systems and to harness the properties of quantum entanglement, a phenomenon Albert Einstein famously characterized as ​“spooky action at a distance.”

Quantum entanglement links two (or more) particles so that they are in a shared state—such that whatever happens to one immediately affects the other, no matter how far they have travelled apart.

In addition to the quantum loop, Argonne plans to develop a two-way quantum link network with Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. When the two projects are connected, the quantum link, also supported by DOE, is expected to be among the longest links in the world to send secure information using quantum physics.

Argonne is a member of the Chicago Quantum Exchange, a catalyst for advancing academic and industrial efforts in the science and engineering of quantum information. The Chicago Quantum Exchange is headquartered at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago and includes Argonne, Fermilab and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as core members.

The quantum loop, and the Argonne-Fermi quantum link network, are supported by the DOE Office of Science Basic Energy Sciences program.

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