The U.S. National Quantum Initiative Act (NQIA) is now four years old and the second World Quantum Day – 4.14.23 – is on Friday. Yes, it was chosen because the date 4.14 is a rounding of Planck’s constant which is so foundational in quantum mechanics. While WQD activities are only loosely coordinated and lean heavily towards educational outreach, there are a few reports being issued to commemorate the day and demonstrate value.
WQD describes itself as, “an initiative from quantum scientists from 65+ countries. It is a decentralized and bottom-up initiative, inviting all scientists, engineers, educators, communicators, entrepreneurs, technologists, historians, philosophers, artists, museologists, producers, etc., and their organisations, to develop their own activities, such as outreach talks, exhibitions, lab tours, panel discussions, interviews, artistic creations, etc., to celebrate the World Quantum Day around the World.”
It’s tough to get a bead on WQD activities because they are so diverse and self-directing. That said, at least one of the five National Quantum Information Sciences (NQIS) Centers created by the NQIA – the Quantum System Accelerator (QSA) based at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories – posted an article recapping its progress to date, following closely on the heels of a formal QSA Impact Report issued in March.
Both the article and report provide glimpse into the scope of activities being undertaken by the NQIS centers. QSA is highlighting five of its efforts. Here are three:
- Stacked qubit layers on microchips to help computers grow – Scientists at MIT and MIT Lincoln Laboratory are taking inspiration from commercial electronics and investigating qubits with layers. These stacks of electronic chips reroute the connections to attach vertically, as though perpendicular to our grid – a kind of “3D integration.” The change allows researchers to potentially connect, control, and read larger numbers of qubits. Through funding from QSA and other partners, they’ve already built and tested a “2-stack” qubit chip(with two layers), and QSA researchers are working on further enhanced versions.
- Made a record-setting quantum sensor that can be used to hunt dark matter – Led by the University of Colorado Boulder, QSA researchers built a quantum sensorfrom 150 beryllium ions (atoms with an electric charge) arranged in a flat crystal. By using entangled particles, where a change in one immediately impacts the other, the quantum sensor measured electric fields with more than 10 times the sensitivity of any previously demonstrated atomic sensor.
- Harnessed machine learning to correct errors in real time – QSA researchers at UC Berkeley designed a machine learning algorithmthat can process the CQEC signals and find errors more accurately than current real-time methods. Because the new algorithm is flexible, learns on the job, and requires small amounts of computing power, it could improve continuous error correction systems and support larger and more stable quantum computers.
Other NQIS centers have periodically released similar kinds of reports and the WQD activities perhaps present a good moment to check out what the centers are up to. Listed below are brief descriptions of the NQIS centers, excerpted from DOE website:
Director: David Awschalom
Lead Institution: Argonne National Laboratory
Q-NEXT will create a focused, connected ecosystem to deliver quantum interconnects, to establish national foundries, and to demonstrate communication links, networks of sensors, and simulation testbeds. In addition to enabling scientific innovation, Q-NEXT will build a quantum-smart workforce, create quantum standards by building a National Quantum Devices Database, and provide pathways to the practical commercialization of quantum technology by embedding industry in all aspects of its operations and incentivizing start-ups.
Director: Andrew Houck
Lead Institution: Brookhaven National Laboratory
C2QA aims to overcome the limitations of today’s noisy intermediate scale quantum (NISQ) computer systems to achieve quantum advantage for scientific computations in high-energy, nuclear, chemical and condensed matter physics. The integrated five-year goal of C2QA is to deliver a factor of 10 improvement in each of software optimization, underlying materials and device properties, and quantum error correction, and to ensure these improvements combine to provide a factor of 1,000 improvement in appropriate computation metrics.
Director: Anna Grassellino
Lead Institution: Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
The primary mission of SQMS is to achieve transformational advances in the major crosscutting challenge of understanding and eliminating the decoherence mechanisms in superconducting 2D and 3D devices, with the goal of enabling construction and deployment of superior quantum systems for computing and sensing. In addition to the scientific advances, SQMS will target tangible deliverables in the form of unique foundry capabilities and quantum testbeds for materials, physics, algorithms, and simulations that could broadly serve the national QIS ecosystem.
Director: Rick Muller
Lead Institution: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Lead Partner: Sandia National Laboratories
QSA aims to co-design the algorithms, quantum devices, and engineering solutions needed to deliver certified quantum advantage in scientific applications. QSA’s multi-disciplinary team will pair advanced quantum prototypes—based on neutral atoms, trapped ions, and superconducting circuits—with algorithms specifically constructed for imperfect hardware to demonstrate optimal applications for each platform in scientific computing, materials science, and fundamental physics. The QSA will deliver a series of prototypes to broadly explore the quantum technology trade-space, laying the basic science foundation to accelerate the maturation of commercial technologies.
Director: Travis Humble
Lead Institution: Oak Ridge National Laboratory
QSC is dedicated to overcoming key roadblocks in quantum state resilience, controllability, and ultimately scalability of quantum technologies. This goal will be achieved through integration of the discovery, design, and demonstration of revolutionary topological quantum materials, algorithms, and sensors, catalyzing development of disruptive technologies. In addition to the scientific goals, integral to the activities of the QSC are development of the next generation of QIS workforce by creating a rich environment for professional development and close coordination with industry to transition new QIS applications to the private sector.