Department of Energy awards Fermilab more than $10 million for quantum science

Submitted by Fermilab
Posted10/9/2018 8:30 PM

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced that it has awarded scientists at its Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory more than $10 million to spur research that could revolutionize not only our understanding of nature, but also the very way we investigate it.

Quantum science is a cutting-edge field of research made possible through the unique effects of quantum physics. The best known examples are quantum computing, quantum sensors and quantum teleportation, all of which Fermilab researchers will be working on in the coming years. This work, and the technology that enables it, is beyond complex, but Fermilab's scientists and engineers, in partnership with other institutions and industry, have discovered new ways to make use of quantum effects to understand the universe.


"Scientists have understood the practical potential of quantum physics for decades, but only recently has the technology advanced to the point that we could tap into it," said Fermilab Chief Research Officer and Deputy Director Joe Lykken. "Quantum physics has been Fermilab's bread and butter for a half-century. With that accumulation of expertise and the technological innovation that comes with it, there's hardly a place better positioned to explore -- as a focused, dedicated program -- the ways we can take full advantage of nature's quantum behavior."

As part of a number of grants to national laboratories and universities through its Quantum Information Science-Enabled Discovery program, DOE's funding to Fermilab scientists cover five initiatives (listed below) and will be distributed over two years. It also funds Fermilab's participation in three further initiatives led by other institutions.

"One of the most exciting aspects of these initiatives is the way that quantum science and particle physics will advance each other. We're pushing at the bounds of both fields," said University of Washington graduate student Natalie Klco, who is participating in one of the funded programs. "It's exciting to be working at a new frontier in particle physics."

The quantum science funding announcement follows on the heels of a first-of-its-kind quantum workshop held earlier this month at Fermilab. With participants from academia and industry, it featured Google's first quantum software tutorial in a public setting. The hands-on nature of the workshop and the face-to-face interaction among researchers from tech companies, national laboratories and universities made it an incubator for new ideas, discussions and problem-solving in quantum computing.

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Fermilab also is preparing to participate in the Chicago Quantum Exchange Summit, to be held at the University of Chicago Nov. 8 and 9. Fermilab, the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago form the core of CQE, a partnership that will facilitate the exploration of quantum information and the development of new applications with the potential to dramatically improve technology for communication, computing and sensing.

The summit will include representatives from the technical and academic sector. It will also serve as a testament to both academia's and industry's serious, burgeoning interest in quantum science.

"As we refer to it now, quantum science is a young field. But Fermilab is building on a 50-year foundation of world-leading quantum physics research and high-performance computing," said Fermilab Scientific Computing Division Head Panagiotis Spentzouris. "These awards give us a way to maximize all the potential we have here. Not just for our field, but for research everywhere."

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