ColdQuanta Hires CEO, Organizes into 3 Divisions

By John Russell

August 31, 2021

ColdQuanta, a start-up hoping to leverage expertise in cold atom quantum technology (think Bose-Einstein condensate effects), today announced the appointment of Scott Faris as its incoming CEO. Faris, chief business officer at Luminar Technologies (autonomous vehicle sensing) since 2016, will start transitioning to ColdQuanta next week. No date was given for when Faris will fully assume the CEO job.

In 2020 ColdQuanta was awarded a DARPA grant to develop a scalable, “cold-atom-based quantum computing hardware and software platform that can demonstrate quantum advantage on real-world problems.” Currently, many qubit technologies are battling for sway – superconducting, optical, ion trap (also individual atoms, but charged), silicon spin, and a non-abelian anion. All of them have strengths and weaknesses.

Last month the company reported it had achieved an important milestone in the development of its quantum computer by trapping and addressing 100 qubits in a large, dense 2-D cold atom array. ColdQuanta says the new gate-based quantum computer (code named “Hilbert”) will be among the “most powerful in the world [and] have the stability of atomic clocks to massively scale qubit count.”

Besides reporting Faris’s appointment, ColdQuanta also announced it organizing the company into three divisions. Here’s an excerpt from the official release describing the divisions:

  • Quantum Computing (codenamed Hilbert): The Quantum Computing division is developing the world leading Cold Atom Quantum Computing platform and is led by Paul Lipman, president of quantum computing. Earlier this year, the team achieved a significant milestone in the development of ColdQuanta’s quantum computer, code name Hilbert, by trapping and addressing 100 qubits in a large, dense 2-D cold atom array. ColdQuanta’s cold atom approach provides significant scalability and fidelity advantages to power practical quantum computing.
  • Quantum Research as a Service (QRaaS): The QRaaS division is led by Max Perez, general manager, Quantum Research as a Service. Building on ColdQuanta’s strong legacy and outstanding reputation of discovering breakthrough technology in support of government and enterprises, the division provides a world leading quantum research platform. QRaaS develops research, creates prototypes, and offers consulting services across a broad range of applications including high precision clocks, navigation, radio frequency receivers, and quantum networking and communications.
  • ColdAtom Technologies (CAT): The ColdAtom Technologies division provides critical supply chain quantum devices and machines such as glass vacuum cells and magneto optical traps (MOTs), and is led by acting general manager, Sandi Mays. ColdQuanta’s existing products are well suited for quantum computing companies, specifically those who use trapped Ion and cold/neutral atom modalities, and quantum lab environments.”

Obviously Cold Quanta has big plans. The company says its core technology has applications in everything from accelerometers, spoof-proof GPS devices, RF sensors, stealth communications, and much more. The company has been a supplier of a variety of quantum instruments and systems (including ion traps) for years.

“This is a way of organizing the activities internally and also a way for customers to identify where we can bring them specific value. There are distinct sets of customers out there. Some of them actually are competitors, that can be also great partners of ours because we were the first to figure out how to build some of the parts [they need],” Faris told HPCwire. Glass vacuum vials for use with cold atom technology is one example of a ColdQuanta product.

It will be interesting to watch how the “quantum information” supply chain evolves. Intel and Microsoft have both developed cryo-controller chips for use with quantum computers. It’s not hard to imagine Intel supplying its controller chips to others.

Faris says his background at Luminar Technologies and its LIDAR and optical technologies will prove useful. These technologies, he said, have found many new applications over time. He said ColdQuanta’s cold atom quantum expertise and related component product line are also likely to turn up new uses. Faris said ColdQuanta’s Hilbert system is expected be available sometime this fall with early access provided via a portal.

No doubt his experience in fund raising will be useful; Faris was with Luminar Technologies when it went public via a SPAC and raised $800 million. Within the quantum computing market, IonQ also used a SPAC to go public.

The official announcement describes Faris as “An experienced technology company executive with over three decades of operating, venture-financing and scaling experience. [At Luminar] Scott built and managed the company’s global business operations and in particular its supply chain and business development organizations. Prior to Luminar, Scott was CEO of Panaceutics, Inc. and Planar Energy, Inc., a company developing solid state batteries for electric vehicles. Scott has also served as CEO of Waveguide Solutions, which pioneered integrated optical chips, and COO of Ocean Optics, a global manufacturer of high-volume precision optical instrumentation. Since 2011 Scott has served on the Board of Directors of Lightpath Technologies, Inc., a high-volume optical component manufacturer.”

Also read: ColdQuanta – Life in Quantum’s Slow (and Cold) Lane Heats Up

Feature image: ColdQuanta hexagonal vacuum cell

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