LBNL-led Effort Receives $3M to Advance Quantum Computing

September 27, 2017

Two teams led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have received $3 million from the Department of Energy to advance quantum computing software and hardware. It’s an ambitious five year-project in which the hardware team hopes to eventually demonstrate a 64-qubit processor with full control.

LBNL has been exploring quantum computing for some time. Indeed, using Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) funding, LBNL researchers developed quantum chemistry and optimization algorithms, as well as prototype superconducting quantum processors. Recently, they proved the viability of their work by using these algorithms on a quantum processor comprising two superconducting transmon quantum bits to successfully solve the chemical problem of calculating the complete energy spectrum of a hydrogen molecule.

The new DOE grant will extend that research. One team will receive $1.5 million over three years to develop novel algorithms, compiling techniques and scheduling tools that will enable near-term quantum computing platforms to be used for scientific discovery in the chemical sciences. The other team will work closely with these researchers to design prototype four- and eight-qubit processors to compute these new algorithms. This project will last five years and the researchers will receive $1.5 million for their first year of work. An article describing the new project was posted yesterday on the LBNL web site. This work is supported by the DOE Office of Science.

“Someday, universal quantum computers will be able to solve a wide range of problems, from molecular design to machine learning and cybersecurity, but we’re a long way off from that. So, the question we are currently asking is whether there are specific problems that we can solve with more specialized quantum computers,” says Irfan Siddiqi, Berkeley Lab Scientist and Founding Director of the Center for Quantum Coherent Science at UC Berkeley. This work is supported by the DOE Office of Science.

“Computational approaches are common across most scientific projects at Berkeley Lab. As Moore’s Law is slowing down, novel computing architectures, system, and techniques have become a priority initiative at Berkeley Lab,” says Horst Simon, Berkeley Lab’s Deputy Director. “We recognized early how quantum simulation could provide an effective approach to some of the most challenging computational problems in science, and I am pleased to see recognition of our LDRD initiative through this first direct funding. Quantum information science will become an increasingly important element of our research enterprise across many disciplines.”

Link to LBNL article: https://cs.lbl.gov/news-media/news/2017/a-quantum-computer-to-tackle-fundamental-science-problems/

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