Agencies, industry investing in quantum infrastructure

Advances in quantum algorithms, tools and platforms are being fueled by federal grants and private-sector investments.

Advances in quantum algorithms, tools and platforms are being fueled by federal grants and private-sector investments.

*** The Department of Energy awarded $60.7 million in research funding across nine national laboratories, universities and non-profits to advance the development of quantum computing and networking.

Three projects were awarded $47 million to speed progress in quantum computing with research on the development of algorithms and software tools and techniques -- including programming languages, compilers and debugging approaches -- specifically designed for quantum computing.

Five other projects will address development of wide-area quantum networks, with the goal of greatly boosting the range of quantum-based communications. A full list of the funded projects can be found here.

DOE also announced it is accepting nominations to the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee. That committee will provide advice and recommendations on quantum information science to the president, the secretary of Energy and the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Quantum Information Science.

*** The University of California, Santa Barbara, will build what it calls the nation's first Quantum Foundry, a center for development of materials for quantum information-based technologies, thanks to a $25 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Quantum computing will require moving beyond conventional electronics, so a significant portion of the NSF grant is designated to developing materials that can host quantum electronic states and propagating quantum coherence into conventional information networks.

The Quantum Foundry is also dedicated to training a diverse quantum workforce through an interdisciplinary program of graduate training in quantum information science combined with quantum-based undergraduate research training and outreach activities.

*** IBM opened its Quantum Computation Center, which will provide its IBM Q Network community of users access to 10 quantum systems, including five 20-qubit systems, one 14-qubit system and four 5-qubit systems. The company also announced plans to add four additional systems within the next month, including a new 53-qubit quantum computer that will give users the ability to run even more complex entanglement and connectivity experiments.

"Our strategy, since we put the very first quantum computer on the cloud in 2016, was to move quantum computing beyond isolated lab experiments conducted by a handful of organizations, into the hands of tens of thousands of users," said IBM Research Director Dario Gil.

IBM said its Q Network has 150,000 registered users and nearly 80 commercial clients, academic institutions and research laboratories.

*** Quantum Xchange, a company that uses a technique based on quantum physics to help encrypt information, said it can now transmit quantum-generated encryption keys unlimited distances, making it easier for governments and businesses to securely transmit data. Its Phio technology is already in use carrying quantum cryptographic keys over fiber-optic cable connecting the financial district New York City to data centers in New Jersey.

In an interview with Forbes, Quantum Xchange CEO John Prisco said the company can now transmit keys over any distance and across standard telecom networks.  It also has plans to create a much longer quantum key distribution network carrying signals between New York and Washington, D.C., by way of trusted nodes, positioned every 60 miles or so, to ensure the integrity of the encryption. These nodes receive the key before it degrades and generate a new key using the same random quantum number generator and then send the data on its way.

*** Aliro Technologies, a startup out of Harvard University's quantum computing lab, received $2.7 in seed funding to commercialize new technologies that aim to make hybrid classical-quantum programs the new standard .

The company's software platform "will facilitate composition and verification of quantum, as well as hybrid (classical-quantum), algorithms and enable their execution on the best quantum hardware for the job,” Aliro Co-Founder Prineha Narang said.

Aliro will also provide a suite of technical tools such as validation schemes, visualizations, benchmarks, error-correcting codes, application-specific interfaces and general performance improvements to help software developers to execute algorithms more efficiently and more accurately, without the need for deep quantum expertise.

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