Quantum powers unite in Island’s $115M QIS center

Step on it: A new federally funded research center based at Brookhaven National Laboratory will speed up development of faster and more powerful quantum computers.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A $115 million research effort rooted at Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University will try to push the United States to the head of the global quantum-information class.

The U.S. Department of Energy has chosen BNL to lead one of five National Quantum Information Science Research Centers, each supporting the National Quantum Initiative Act, which became law in 2018 and mandates a 10-year national strategy to “accelerate the development of quantum information science and technology applications.”

At BNL – which is managed for the DOE by Brookhaven Science Associates, an LLC combining the might of Ohio’s Battelle Memorial Institute and the Research Foundation for the State University of New York, on behalf of SBU – the focus is on quantum computing.

The Co-Design Center for Quantum Advantage, handily abbreviated “C²QA,” will build “fundamental tools” for ever-faster generations of quantum processors. And while the center is based at the Upton national laboratory – and welcomes contributions from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton and Harvard universities, NASA, IBM and 20 other esteemed schools, laboratories and corporations – it will lean heavily on SBU.

Dmitri Kharzeev: Thinking strategically.

In fact, the five-year plan – which kicks off with $15 million in federal funding in Fiscal 2020, still awaiting congressional appropriations – “establishes Stony Brook University as one of the nation’s leading centers in quantum information,” according to Dmitri Kharzeev, a distinguished professor in SBU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and director of the university’s new Center for Quantum Materials.

“C²QA will incorporate Stony Brook’s quantum science expertise to develop new approaches to quantum computing and quantum technology, as well as educate the next generation of quantum scientists and engineers,” said Kharzeev, who called quantum-information science “a strategically important and highly competitive area of research worldwide.”

To that end, the SBU scientists will collaborate with some of the world’s biggest thinkers in materials, computer and theoretical sciences as the C²QA targets quantum computations in such critical fields as nuclear physics, chemistry and condensed-matter physics, among others.

Robert Schoelkopf, a C²QA principal investigator and director of Yale University’s Yale Quantum Institute, said the center was ideally constructed to create “robust and scalable” quantum computers.

“By combining materials science, improved devices and algorithmic innovations, C²QA will develop the science to … ensure that the United States leads the way into the era of useful quantum computing,” Schoelkopf said in a statement.