The quest for quantum computing supremacy is a geopolitical priority for Europe, China, Canada, Australia and the United States. The quantum computing market was valued at $472m earlier in 2021 and is expected to reach $1.7bn by 2026, according to a Markets and Markets projection. Boston Consulting Group’s 2018 report that estimates a quantum computing market of nearing $60 billion in 2035, which would grow further to $295 billion in 2050, which explains why nations, corporates and startups alike are all jockeying for first position. Advantage gained by acquiring the first computer that renders all other computers obsolete would be enormous and bestow economic, military and public health advantages to the winner.
Governments in Canada, China, Europe, and North America are devoting multi-billion-dollar programs to quantum technologies, and commercial investment is flowing as well. The global investment in Quantum technologies is estimated to be in tune of $20 Billion. Leading venture and private equity funds as well as major corporations compete for rapid investments of considerable size. They are also experimenting with different models involving Industry and academia to give thrust to this now strategic field. There are a number of emerging global hubs, all predictably close to universities and institutions with expertise in the field. However, quantum computing global centres of gravity will depend on how well locations can grow their ecosystems to attract talent and foster start-up growth and investment.
World Quantum Computing race is built on Quantum Centre of Excellence centres
There are a number of emerging global hubs, all predictably close to universities and institutions with expertise in the field. However, quantum computing global centres of gravity will depend on how well locations can grow their ecosystems to attract talent and foster start-up growth and investment.
Recent US legislation will authorize the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create new research centers at universities, federal laboratories, and nonprofit research institutes, according to a committee spokesperson. These research hubs would aim to build alliances between physicists doing fundamental research, engineers who can build devices, and computer scientists developing quantum algorithms. The centers could give academics seeking to develop commercial technologies access to expertise and expensive research tools, says physicist David Awschalom of the University of Chicago in Illinois, one of the blueprint’s authors. “The research needs rapidly outpace any individual lab,” he says.
The blueprint recommends that the hubs focus on three areas: developing ultraprecise quantum sensors for biomedicine, navigation, and other applications; hack-proof quantum communication; and quantum computers. UK strategy also builds on technology hubs. In order to begin the transition from science to technology and to build clusters of activity with industry, EPSRC has invested £120 million in a national network of quantum technology hubs. These are led by the universities of Birmingham, Glasgow, York and Oxford. Each of the quantum hubs is investing in incubator spaces for new businesses, and public funding will be available to develop the facilities – such as in nano-fabrication and high-value electronic production – that companies can use to develop these new devices.
A study of China’s quantum strategy published in September 2018 by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a US think tank, noted that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is recruiting quantum specialists, and that big defense companies like China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) are setting up joint quantum labs at universities. Working out exactly which projects have a military element to them is hard, though. “There’s a degree of opacity and ambiguity here, and some of that may be deliberate,” says Elsa Kania, a coauthor of the CNAS study. China has also managed to cultivate close working relationships between government research institutes, universities, and companies like CSIC and CETC.
The government invested more than C$1B in quantum research from 2009 – 2020, following up with C$360M for a national quantum strategy in 2021. The Ontario and Canadian governments have both invested heavily — to the tune of $1 billion in the last decade alone — alongside Lazaridis and others to build the infrastructure and resources needed for quantum dominance.
Canada already has 23 startup quantum technology companies, second only to the US with 59, according to McKinsey & Co. It also is among the top 10 countries worldwide in planned public funding for quantum technology at more than $600 million, a number that is growing but still behind China with $15 billion, the EU with $7.2 billion and the US with $1.3 billion, McKinsey said.
The University of Waterloo is among the Canadian universities with a strong quantum technology focus, including its Institute for Quantum Computing. It is listed by The Quantum Insider among the 12 best quantum computing universities and graduate programmes. The list includes Oxford and Harvard universities. Others Canadian universities with strong quantum research efforts are the University of Calgary, University of Montreal, University of British Columbia and the University of Sherbrooke. Dozens of startups out of academia already are working on the components needed to build a quantum computer.
The University of Sherbrooke’s Quantum Institute has a collaboration with IBM, becoming the first IBM Q Space hub in Canada, with exclusive cloud-based access to the US company’s most advanced quantum computer systems and software. The collaboration is supported by the provincial government of Quebec.
This private-public partnership is responsible for the creation of the Institute for Quantum Computing, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Quantum NanoFab Facility and the Quantum Valley Ideas Lab, all based in Waterloo and focused on different elements of the quantum research life-cycle — from R&D all the way through new product commercialization. British Columbia is home to D-Wave Systems, the first company to have commercialized a quantum computing hardware system. Canada has a growing private sector impact, outstanding research expertise, and extensive government commitments to innovation. This places the country in a very strong position to drive quantum technology development.
Over the years, the UK has shown increasing participation in quantum research and development. The UK began its first five-year phase in 2015, and after it’s success, announced the second five-year phase at the end of 2019. UK has formulated its National Strategy for Quantum Technologies with the aim to guide new quantum work and investments over the next 20 years to help deliver a profitable, growing and sustainable quantum industry deeply rooted in the UK. The vision is to create a coherent government, industry and academic quantum technology community that gives the UK a world-leading position in the emerging multi-billion-pound new quantum technology markets, and to substantially enhance the value of some of the biggest UK-based industries.
The programme initially benefited from £270 million in 2014, expected to last five years, and used £120 million from this to set up four National Quantum Technology Hubs led by universities and colleges in Oxford, Birmingham, York and Glasgow. A further £80 million investment, announced in early September 2018 will be divided between the hubs and is expected to last an additional five years – averaging just £4 million per hub per year. While the UK’s £80 million is four times less than what scientists asked for, according to Bloomberg this is 12 times less than the US’ $200 million per year, and 125 times less than China’s $10 billion.
By that point, four hubs involving around 30 universities including associated companies and government organisations were established. The four research ‘Hubs’ consisted of research programmes, comprising academics with industry and government partners. They specialised on the known areas of quantum technologies: imaging, ultra-precise sensors, secure communications and new concepts for quantum computing.During the first phase, the UK heavily invested time and resources into quantum research to look into developing sensitive gravity detectors, quantum simulators, quantum computers and miniature atomic clocks.
Oxford has emerged as the UK’s central quantum computing hub. This is demonstrated by a £93m investment through the UK Research and Innovation for a National Quantum Computing Centre, which broke ground in September 2021 and is due for completion in early 2023. Other key Oxford institutions include the Quantum Computing & Simulation Hub, Wolfson Quantum Hub and IBM Q. Oxford University has long been a centre of expertise for quantum sciences and has the largest number of quantum science research groups of all of the UK’s universities.
Nationwide, the UK has developed ancillary quantum hubs in London within University College, London; in Cambridge, anchored by the UK’s leading quantum start-up Cambridge Quantum; Bristol University; and the Scottish Universities triad of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Strathclyde. Scotland delivers a quarter of the UK’s quantum research despite accounting for just 8% of the overall population.
Around a hundred years after the publication of revolutionary ideas from Einstein, Schrödinger, and others, Europe still retains the largest share in academic quantum output. The European Commission allocated €1b of funding over 10 years to launch the European Quantum Flagship in 2018. It’s main aim is to “consolidate and expand European scientific leadership and excellence in this research area in order to kick-start a European industry in quantum technology”. The official Flagship document has been endorsed by over 3500 representatives from academia and industry, calling on the EC to invest in QT as a core future technology.
France invests €60 million in quantum technologies every year. The French government recently launched a a plan to structure a national strategy for quantum technologies, and estimated they would require €1.4 billion over the next five years to fund quantum research. They declared that the public sector alone cannot support this, and that the private sector will have to participate .
They recently announced the strategic recommendations for the 2020 plan:
- Deploy cutting-edge quantum computing infrastructure for research and industry.
- Launch an ambitions technological development programme.
- Implement a programme for supporting the development of applications.
- Create an effective environment for innovation.
- Deliver a tailored economic security strategy.
- Establish effective governance.
In 2018, the German Federal Government announced a Framework Programme to bring quantum technologies to market. They also allocated €650 million funding to its quantum technologies Programme.
The goals for the programme are:
- To build on Germany’s strong position in quantum physics research and pave the way towards applications using quantum technologies.
- To establish the framework conditions to prepare for new economic opportunities and markets.
- To build a solid basis for a leading role in industrial use of quantum technologies.
- To work with our international partners to ensure the security and autonomy of Germany and Europe in this important future eld
- To inform the population of Germany and involve them in the journey towards a new key technology.
In July 2020, the German government announced a €2 billion quantum effort, supplementing EU plans for €1 billion in investment through 2028 .
The NSW government has backed a proposal for a Sydney Quantum Academy (SQA), which will see researchers from four universities collaborate to advance quantum technologies and link them to industry. The government is providing $15.4 million funding for the academy, bolstered by around $20 million from the University of Sydney, University of NSW, Macquarie University, the University of Technology Sydney and unnamed industry partners. The academy has four stated aims: To encourage students to work across the four institutions, link them to industry through internships and research, support emerging quantum technology startups, and promote Sydney as a global leader in the field.
In 2019, the Netherlands published a National Agenda on Quantum Technologies with four areas of focus in quantum:
- Breakthroughs in research and innovation,
- Ecosystem development, market creation and infrastructure.
- Human capital: education, knowledge and skills.
- Societal dialogue on quantum technology.
The Agenda aims to position the Netherlands as a leading international centre and hub for quantum technology. Many Dutch universities and knowledge institutes are leaders in the field of quantum internet, quantum algorithms, and post-quantum cryptography, thus making The Netherlands a strong player in the field of quantum research. €135 million from six parties will be invested in QuTech, the quantum technology institute of the TU Delft (Delft University of Technology) and TNO (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research), bringing the overall investment to around $150 million
China is believed to be one of the leading nations in quantum information science, as the country began investing in quantum research and development very early on, by the end of the 90s. It is estimated that the Chinese government has invested around $10b in quantum technologies, however this figure has not been officially confirmed.
According to research by GlobalData, the highest number of quantum computing patents to date within China has been filed at Beijing University and ancillary quantum hub Chengdu, home of leading research institution the University of Electronic Science and Technology.
Chinese tech giant Baidu, headquartered in Beijing, has a Quantum Artificial Intelligence research centre focusing on integrating quantum technologies into Baidu’s core business. Alongside Beijing, the university city of Hefei, home of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has emerged as a hub for quantum science. A centralised National Laboratory for Quantum Sciences was founded in Hefei, Anhui province, in January 2014.
China has taken early lead in one of areas of quantum communications. China has unveiled the world’s first quantum communication landline connecting Beijing with Shanghai like no two other cities in history. The first quantum encrypted Skype call was also made, that same day, by the Chinese. It was only possible because of the world’s first quantum satellite, known as Micius. Beijing is striving to become a world leader in quantum technology through large-scale state-guided investments, which may total tens of billions of dollars in the years to come.
Under its 13th five-year plan, introduced in 2016, China has launched a “megaproject” for quantum communications and computing, which aims to achieve major breakthroughs in these technologies by 2030, including the expansion of China’s national quantum communications infrastructure, the development of a general quantum computer prototype$2, and the construction of a practical quantum simulator. China is also building the National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences, which, with over $1 billion in initial funding, could emerge as a key center of gravity for future research and development.
The Chinese military and China’s defense industry have also taken a keen interest in quantum technology. People’s Liberation Army (PLA) may hope to use advances in quantum radar and sensing to offset the U.S. military’s superiority in stealth technology, which could be vulnerable to this new type of detection. Chinese scientists recently tested quantum radar technology on board warships.The PLA Navy is looking to develop a quantum compass for its submarines that would enable them to navigate without the help of BeiDou (China’s counterpart to GPS), enabling independence from space systems that could be compromised in a conflict scenario. And quantum cryptography could give China an edge in securing military communications.
Russian scientists have been developing cornerstones of quantum technologies for many decades. Quantum research in Russia is supported by both governmental and industrial entities. The Russian government announced in 2019 that it will invest around 50 billion roubles (US$663 million) over the next 5 years into basic and applied quantum research carried out at leading Russian laboratories. The primary goal of this program is to consolidate ongoing research activities in four sections: Quantum computing and quantum simulation; Quantum communications; Quantum metrology and quantum sensing. and Enabling technologies. Over 120 research experts from leading research institutions are expected to be involved with this program
Russia is also pushing the boundaries. Spearheaded by the Russian Quantum Center, Russia announced a breakthrough by designing a quantum computer that can reliably solve basic computations faster than anything else today. two leading Russian quantum computing research institutes – the Russian Quantum Center and the MISiS National University of Science & Technology, also announced the creation of a joint project known as Quantum Center, which aims at combining their efforts to create quantum computers.
Quantum computer could in several decades be powerful enough to break the codes of today’s best cryptography. If the United States fails to develop a similarly strong quantum infrastructure, all of today’s protected data could be at risk. This includes military data that would directly impact operational security (OPSEC), which is the critical communications in any military mission. The United States Department of Defense has requisitioned $899 million for computer science research. While this research focuses largely on quantum computing, the requested amount is only .000046% of the total gross domestic product (GDP).
The new quantum computing research in the Republic of Korea will include:
- Investment of KRW 44.5 billion ($39.7 million) for 5 years to develop core technology of quantum computing and to expand research base.
- Investment of KRW 13.4 billion ($11.9 million) in next-generation ICT technology including ultra high-performance computing knowledge data convergence, system software, software engineering, information and intelligence systems, and HCI (Human-Computer Interaction).
- Through the development of key technologies for quantum computing, the government plans to complete demonstration of a practical five-qubit quantum computer system with more than 90 percent reliability by 2023.
The Japanese government plans to promote quantum technology as part of its national strategy. The government has drafted a new national strategy based on the idea that the government, industries and academia should work together to survive the global race that is heating up to develop the technology. The draft calls for drawing up a roadmap for about 20 years to develop the technology in four key areas, including quantum computers and quantum cryptography.
The draft says the government will directly control the project and provide substantial financial support. The draft says the government will designate more than five research institutes and universities in the next five years to be research bases to collect technologies and human resources. It also calls for founding more than 10 quantum technology start-ups in about 10 years.
The total investment for quantum information science and technology is around ¥30bn (around $280m). The main funding agencies have been the Japan Science and Technology Agency, the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and the Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan.
For example, the Japanese Government launched the Q-LEAP (Quantum Leap) initiative in 2018 to invest in R&D projects in three fields of quantum technology: Quantum simulation and computation, Quantum sensing, and Ultrashort pulse lasers. New Japanese initiatives have recently been launched in 2018 to advance quantum information science and technology to the next phase. The Moonshot Project is expected to invest around ¥15-20bn to achieve its goal of creating a fault-tolerant universal quantum computer by 2050
During the visit to France of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the two countries approved several agreements, including the creation of a Franco-Indian center on quantum computing at the initiative of Atos. Center of excellence will be established in Pune, India. This is a collaboration between Atos and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC). CDAC is an autonomous scientific society of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology of the Government of India.
The IISc (Indian Institute of Science) has a dedicated research area for quantum technology. The Initiative on Quantum Technology explores many areas such as: superconducting qubit devices, single photon sources and detectors for quantum communications, integrated photonic quantum networks, and quantum sensors. This year, the Indian government has introduced a NM-QTA (National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications) with a total budget of INR 8000 crores (approximately $1bn) over a five year period. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stated that a lot of commercial applications are expected to emerge from theoretical constructs developing in this area.
The QUEST centre (QUantum Entanglement in Science and Technology) has been established in Israel to advance the application of quantum mechanics to both fundamental and applied science. A government panel in Israel is assigning 1.2b shekels ($350m) to a 6 year quantum technology program. The funding will come from the Council of Higher Education, the Defense Ministry’s Research, Arms Development and Technological Infrastructure Administration and academic institutions .
One of Google’s R&D centers located in Tel Aviv, Israel, is actively researching quantum computing. They hinted at a computer chip that, with the power of quantum computing, was able to manage and analyse in one second the amount of data that would take a full day for any supercomputer
Japan to boost development of quantum technology by forming Quantum ICT forum
Japanese businesses and research institutes have set up an organization to promote the development of quantum technology. Quantum ICT Forum was founded by 19 businesses and 16 research institutes. They include major electronics companies, universities, and state-owned research organizations.
The forum will provide opportunities for companies to share the latest research. It will also draw up strategies to set global standards for the technology. Hokkaido University Professor Akihisa Tomita is the head of the new forum. He says Japan has taken the lead in basic research on quantum technology, but if a country is five years behind in research and development, it will never be able to catch up. He says the forum will help the government, industries and academia to share information and strategies to increase Japan’s competitiveness in this area.
Centres of Excellence
The Centre for Quantum Technologies (CQT) is a national Research Centre of Excellence (RCE) in Singapore. It brings together physicists, computer scientists and engineers to do basic research on quantum physics and to build devices based on quantum phenomena. Experts in this new discipline of quantum technologies are applying their discoveries in computing, communications and sensing. The Centre was established in December 2007 with support from Singapore’s National Research Foundation and Ministry of Education. CQT is hosted by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and also has staff at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).
The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has launched its new Centre for Quantum Software and Information (CQSI). Speaking at the launch on Monday, UTS Deputy vice chancellor of Research Glenn Wightwick said the new centre will be solely dedicated to the development of the software and information processing infrastructure required to run applications at quantum scale.
The Center for Quantum Science and Engineering (CQSE) at Stevens Institute of Technology pursues innovative quantum engineering research, development and education including bringing photonic technologies into reality, networking, remote sensing, machine learning, big data processing and quantum computing.
In 2007, the Singapore government helped to establish CQT (Centre for Quantum Technologies) that enlists physicists, computer scientists, and engineers to do basic research on quantum physics and to build devices based on quantum phenomena. To date, the Centre’s researchers have published around 2,000 scientific papers, participated in projects winning over S$40 million in grants and established start-up companies. They have also trained over 60 PhD students in quantum technologies. The centre is investing $25 million over 5 years in a new Quantum Engineering Programme. There have also been other investments from grants and the QEP1 (Quantum Engineering Programme). This brings the total quantum expenditure to around S$150 million over the past 5 years
Australia has invested AU$130m through federal funding for the development on quantum technologies . State-level governments have also provided continued investment. In 2017, two new quantum-focused Centres of Excellence were established as five year programs. The first centre is FLEET (Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies) located in Monash University and the second centre is Exciton Science located in the University of Melbourne.
Australia has made significant progress in increasing the public profile of quantum technology, with CQC2T (Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology) Director Professor Michelle Simmons named as Australian of the Year for 2018. The EQUS (Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems) was set up to conduct world-leading research to exploit the potential of quantum science and develop a range of transformational technologies
In December 2020, the New South Wales government helped launch the Sydney Quantum Academy (SQA) bringing together the region’s four universities (Macquarie University, UNSW Sydney, the University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney). SQA is government funded from a $26m quantum computing fund announced in 2017. SQA’s mission to promote collaboration between academia, industry and government retains a key focus on skills development.
The U.S. Department of Energy said in August 2020 that it will provide $625 million over the next five years for five newly formed quantum information research hubs as it tries to keep ahead of competing nations like China on the emerging technology. The funding is part of $1.2 billion earmarked in the National Quantum Initiative Act in 2018. US passed National Quantum Initiative Act bill in Sep 2018, would establish a federal program for accelerating research and training in quantum computing. The act will release $1.275 billion to help fund several centers of excellence that should help train many quantum engineers. Monroe, Christopher said the new national plan should help the US compete internationally. China is pouring billions of dollars into its own quantum computing projects.
“The infrastructure required, the hardware, the personnel, is way too expensive for anyone to go in it alone,” said Prineha Narang, a Harvard University assistant professor of computational materials science. By investing more in basic discovery and training—as the House-passed National Quantum Initiative Act would do—Narang said the U.S. could expand the ranks of scientists and engineers who build quantum computers and then find commercial applications for them.
As well as the established Silicon Valley hub around the San Francisco Bay area, ancillary hubs have emerged in North Carolina State Quantum Hub, Berkeley Quantum, Chicago Quantum Exchange, the Quantum Technology Centre at the University of Maryland, the Harvard Quantum Initiative and the Pittsburgh Quantum Initiative.
It is difficult to pinpoint a single hub for quantum computing in the US, according to Connor Teague, North American head of talent consultancy Quantum Futures. “There are trends that are showing areas of expertise; for instance, Trapped Ions in Maryland and the recent funding and partnerships being set up to bolster this,” he says. “Our clients have an ever-increasing requirement for high-level quantum computing engineers and researchers and the biggest challenge going forward will be attracting and retaining this talent.” In addition, because the quantum sector is so closely tied to academia, along with educators and the quantum commercial world, the underlying issue is collaboration in addressing the talent pipeline, he adds.
The North Carolina State Quantum Hub at North Carolina State University has emerged as one of the leading university centres of expertise in the US. In 2018, IBM designated North Carolina State’s Centennial Campus as its first university-based quantum hub in North America. The global IBM quantum network is a collaboration between IBM and various Fortune 500 companies, national research labs, start-ups and leading universities designed to explore practical applications for business through industry collaboration. It has been instrumental in fostering the various hubs across the US.
US establishing research centers, research and Coordination offices
The US Department of Energy has announced $625 million in funding to enhance research, development, testing and implementation of next-generation quantum technologies. The funding is issued through the National Quantum Initiative to establish two to five multidisciplinary Quantum Information Science Research Centers. The centres will support quantum information science with an eye toward public benefits in national security, economic competitiveness and leadership in scientific discovery. The centers will support the National Quantum Initiative enacted by Congress in December 2018 to accelerate advances in basic science and quantum-based technology, according to a notice of intent and request for information in the Federal Register.
The funding will be used over the next five years by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.
The research centres will:
- Create the ecosystem needed to foster and facilitate the advancement of quantum technologies.
- Incorporate a collaborative research team including multiple scientific, engineering disciplines and institutions.
- Ensure national security, economic competitiveness and America’s continued leadership in science.
In addition, he White House Office of Science and Technology Policy officially launched America’s first National Quantum Coordination Office in March 2019. According to a statement from OSTP, the new office will “work with Federal agencies in developing and maintaining quantum programs, connecting with stakeholders, enabling access and use of [research and development] infrastructure, and supporting the National Science and Technology Council’s (NSTC) Subcommittee on Quantum Information Science.”
In support of the development of quantum technologies, the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory launched a new, 52-mile testbed for quantum communications experiments. The testbed will help 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.
Quantum computing offers a completely new testbed, using unique behaviors of quantum systems to run calculations, take measurements, transport information, and solve problems in ways that conventional computers, sensors, and systems cannot,” Energy Department Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar said in a statement. “The National Quantum Coordination Office will help DOE and the nation maintain our leadership in hardware and software for this new generation of quantum computing.”
Collaboration first step in broad partnership between UChicago, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is joining forces with the University of Chicago and Illinois’s two national laboratories, Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, to make the Chicago area a national leader in quantum technology—a rapidly emerging field with revolutionary potential and growing backing from government and industry.
The quantum collaboration, bringing together the intellectual talent, research capabilities and engineering power of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Chicago, Argonne and Fermilab, with the University of Chicago provides management oversight for Argonne and Fermilab. The combined resources of the four institutions create a powerful hub of more than 100 scientists and engineers—among the world’s largest collaborative teams for quantum research.
“Harnessing the laws of quantum mechanics holds great promise for a wide range of technologies. The Chicago Quantum Exchange brings research universities and national laboratories together in an innovative way, making Chicago a unique and powerful hub for the development of critical new technologies,” said Robert J. Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is joining as a core member of the Chicago Quantum Exchange, which was launched last year by the University of Chicago, Argonne and Fermilab to promote quantum research. The new alliance already has multiple projects underway, including one of the world’s longest quantum communication links to test technology that one day could be the basis for an unhackable network. It will stretch 30 miles between Argonne in Lemont and Fermilab in Batavia.
“For nearly two decades, our four institutions have been at the intellectual epicenter of this field of quantum information science and technology that is being born at the intersection of physics, computing, engineering and materials,” said Robert J. Jones, chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “The Chicago Quantum Exchange will accelerate the arrival of a new era of innovation and discovery, and it will anchor the quantum revolution right here in Chicago and in the state of Illinois.
The Chicago Quantum Exchange’s capabilities span the range of quantum information—from basic solid-state experimental and theoretical physics, to device design and fabrication, to algorithm and software development. The four members each bring unique capabilities, talents and resources to the partnership.
UChicago’s Institute for Molecular Engineering boasts one of the nation’s leading programs in quantum engineering, and faculty across IME and the Physical Sciences Division at UChicago hold deep expertise in quantum physics, computing, communications and sensing. UIUC faculty have been pioneers in laying the foundations for this field—from the theory of superconductivity to the development of nanoscale quantum devices such as the first visible semiconductor lasers.
Argonne’s quantum research includes discoveries of new materials and devices for solid-state qubits—the quantum computer version of a bit. The national lab has expansive experimental and computational infrastructure. Fermilab scientists, together with academic and tech industry partners, are applying their world-leading expertise in superconducting accelerator technology to applications that include using quantum sensors for scientific discovery and developing quantum algorithms and simulations for higher-energy physics problems.
University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Centre for Quantum Software and Information (CQSI)
The new centre has five research programs: Algorithms and complexity, artificial intelligence applications, programming and verification, intermediate quantum computing and architectures, and information theory and security.
Quantum algorithms and complexity
Important questions in the area include: “Can we harness the power of quantum mechanics in solving real-world problems?”, “How to enrich the quantum algorithm toolbox and develop new designing methodologies and frameworks”, and “What are the ultimate limitations of quantum computing?”.
Good quantum algorithms are notoriously hard to design. Several methodologies such as the quantum Fourier transform, phase estimation, amplitude amplification, quantum walks and Hamiltonian simulation form a basic toolbox that provides viable approaches to the designing of quantum algorithms. One of our fundamental research problems is to better understand these existing methodologies and, more importantly, to come up with completely new frameworks that can assist the design of quantum algorithms, and to find broader applications of quantum algorithms to real-world problems in artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data science, approximation algorithms, and optimisation.
Even though quantum computers are believed to be a much more powerful model than classical computers, they have their own limitations. Exploring the limits of quantum computing in different models, finding how they relate to classical complexity classes, and characterising the boundary of efficient quantum computation, provide deeper understanding of quantum computation. Research in this direction also has interesting applications to verifications of quantum computation, delegations of quantum computing and post-quantum cryptography.
AI applications of quantum computing
The last few years have seen revolution and investment explosion in both quantum computing and artificial intelligence. The aim of our current and future research in QSI is to discover the deep interaction between quantum computing and artificial intelligence.
Spatial and temporal reasoning: Using AI approaches to represent and reasoning with qualitative spatial and temporal knowledge.
Quantum constraint solving: Develop quantum algorithms to solve hard constraint satisfaction and optimisation problems in general and spatial and temporal reasoning in particular.
Quantum machine learning: Develop machine learning applications for small-mid size quantum devices.
Quantum property testing: Designing algorithms and measurements that can efficiently handle very large amount of quantum data.
Intermediate quantum computing and architectures
The ultimate goal of quantum computing is to build devices that dramatically outperform existing classical computers, the realization of which will yield a new era in computing. However, they are extremely difficult to build so it will be some time before we can manufacture devices that can achieve the full predicted capabilities of quantum computation. Despite this, recent results from complexity theory have revealed that quantum supremacy over classical devices might be achieved even with quantum computers with capabilities intermediate between classical and quantum computation.
Research teams around the world are now racing to be the first to unambiguously demonstrate quantum supremacy. At the QSI we are focussed on identifying tasks that demonstrate quantum supremacy in the easiest, and cheapest, way possible. This involves theoretically identifying experimental benchmarks, designing architectures capable of achieving them, and working with experimental teams to bring it to reality.
Quantum programming and verification
Programming methodologies and technologies are a central theme of computer science. Due to the essential differences between the nature of the classical world and that of the quantum world, today’s programming techniques are not suited to quantum computers. Furthermore, as human intuition is poorly adapted to the quantum world, design and implementation errors will creep into complex quantum software and cryptographic systems. Quantum programming and verification group at QSI investigates how to program a future quantum computer, and in particular, how quantum features such as superposition and entanglement can be fully exploited in the new programming models. This group also aims to develop formal methods and automatic tools for verification of quantum programs and cryptographic protocols.
Quantum information theory and security
Quantum information and communication technology is the fundamental backbone for larger quantum networks that can consist of clusters quantum cryptographic, computing, and/or sensing nodes. The advantage of such networks over their classical counterparts lies in their ability to exploit the more delicate systems that are permitted by quantum mechanics. Quantum cryptographic systems have the advantage of mathematically provable security and privacy, fundamentally addressing the increasing security threat to communication caused by the advancement of information and communications technologies. In recent years quantum cryptography has been the subject of intense research and rapid progress, and it has demonstrated great potential to become the key technology to maintain privacy of communication. The quantum information theory and security group at QSI aims to develop necessary theories and technologies for the implementation of quantum-enhanced networks.
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