Northwest Quantum Nexus Builds Momentum, Gains New Members

January 24, 2023

Jan. 24, 2023 — With eyes fixed on the future of quantum computing, the Northwest Quantum Nexus (NQN) is expanding its reach, and gathering key leadership to build upon early successes, drive collaborative momentum and map out how that future will take shape in the Pacific Northwest.  This morning kickstarts a two-day NQN Summit on the University of Washington’s (UW) Seattle campus, featuring speakers from across industry, academia and government who have gathered to advance the science, workforce development and economic impact of Quantum Information Science (QIS).

At the event, NQN’s two newest member partners — Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Boeing Co. — join our strong regional roster of academic, government and private sector partners to explore the potential of QIS.

“The promise of quantum will only be realized by unlocking our collective genius,” said Krysta Svore, Distinguished Engineer and VP of Advanced Quantum Development at Microsoft, a founding NQN keystone partner. “The Pacific Northwest is a hub of quantum innovation because of our tight academic, government and business partnerships and our national and global impact will continue to grow with the expanded Northwest Quantum Nexus.”

Working to Make the Promise of Quantum a Reality

QIS is expected to greatly expand our ability to solve what are currently intractable computing challenges.

“The future of quantum computing will require cooperation across industry, academia and government,” said Sebastian Hassinger, Principal Specialist, Amazon Braket at AWS. “AWS’s long-standing presence in Seattle, coupled with our alignment to NQN’s values to grow a quantum computing workforce of the future is the foundation for a great relationship.”

NQN coalition members recognize that while QIS will provide a strategic advantage to those who successfully develop its capabilities, the challenge is beyond the ability of one university, company or any single organization to accomplish alone.

“At Boeing, we are committed to understanding how quantum computation can enhance our complex design and manufacturing systems,” said Marna Kagele, Boeing Technical Fellow. “Results so far show us there is potential in areas from quantum chemistry to optimization and more. We are excited about the future of quantum computing and the opportunities in front of us.”

NQN’s Vision: Building a Quantum Information Science Workforce and Network

Since 2019, NQN partners have been working on hardware and software that operate quantum computing devices, evaluating new quantum-enabled materials, and creating the curricula that will prepare today and tomorrow’s students to work in the growing QIS economy. NQN sponsors workshops, symposia and seminar series to bring together the brightest minds in QIS for intellectual exchange.

Keystone partners Microsoft (Azure Quantum – Quantum Cloud Computing Service | Microsoft Azure)Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the UW launched NQN in 2019.  In 2021, Washington State University and quantum computer hardware manufacturer IonQ joined followed the next year by the University of Oregon’s Center for Optical Molecular & Quantum Science.

“IonQ is the only pure-play quantum computing company participating in the Northwest Quantum Nexus, providing industry-leading performance across all three major cloud quantum platforms – Amazon Braket, Google Quantum and Microsoft Azure Quantum,” said Peter Chapman, President & CEO of IonQ. “With the Pacific Northwest region quickly becoming an international hub of quantum achievements, we are proud to announce today that IonQ has opened a new 65,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in the suburbs of Seattle, where we will be able to more closely collaborate with the brightest minds in the industry on developing the quantum solutions of tomorrow.”

NQN collaborators each share a similar goal of bringing quantum information science to bear on complex computing challenges that are beyond the capabilities of even the most powerful existing computing resources. Members share a commitment to continue building a hub for QIS economic and workforce development which is creating an epicenter for this unique and critical work in the Pacific Northwest region.

“As a national laboratory, PNNL is positioned to contribute both the technical expertise and the scientific use cases that will be central to the development of quantum information technology,” said Louis Terminello, Associate Lab Director for Physical & Computational Sciences at PNNL. “We look forward to continuing to work together with both established and new partners in the coming years toward NQN’s research, training and workforce development goals.”

The Pacific Northwest: A Center of Gravity for Quantum Information Science

NQN members have established productive collaborations and established a foundation for the future QIS workforce.

PNNL and IonQ established a partnership to build a sustainable source of barium qubits to power IonQ’s Aria systems. PNNL contributed materials science and radiochemistry expertise to the research enterprise. Likewise, PNNL’s quantum algorithm development team has worked side-by-side with colleagues at Microsoft to test the performance of algorithms that could one day run scalable quantum computing platforms. These simulations make it possible to design and test many of the approaches that will eventually be used to solve more complex quantum computing challenges.

As UW faculty conceived of and applied for funding to launch an interdisciplinary graduate curriculum in quantum science and engineering, research scientists with Microsoft Quantum and other NQN industry partners provided critical input and guidance on the types of educational experiences — including coursework, laboratory training and internship opportunities — needed for careers in the quantum field. Those efforts paid off in 2020, when UW won $3 million to establish the first National Science Foundation Research Traineeship program (NRT) in quantum information science & engineering. The “Accelerating Quantum-Enabled Technologies” (AQET) program, along with the associated Graduate Certificate in QIS Engineering, provides interdisciplinary quantum training to supplement doctoral research in computer science, chemistry, physics, electrical engineering and materials science.

“NQN partners provided critical support to UW as we launched our formal quantum curriculum,” said Kai-Mei Fu, co-chair of UW QuantumX and the Virginia and Prentice Bloedel Professor of Physics and Electrical and Computer Engineering at the UW. “AQET and the graduate certificate in QISE leverage quantum computing hardware platforms, including Microsoft’s Azure Quantum, to provide hands-on experiences to students with dreams of quantum careers. UW researchers are already working to discover new quantum materials, create qubits, build a quantum processor, and write software using quantum algorithms — our curriculum connects the dots between disciplines to ensure that each student graduates with fluency in a shared language of quantum technologies.”

In addition to driving fundamental quantum research, Washington State University (WSU) honors its commitment as a land grant university to training a quantum-smart workforce. As quantum technologies emerge, students need a broad set of skills, including a foundation in quantum mechanics, a facility with computational and data analysis techniques, and practical hands-on experience with relevant technologies such as electronics, optics and cryogenics.

“Supporting these needs, WSU Quantum Initiative has partnered with a new interdisciplinary program called iSciMath, training students to work at the boundaries of traditional academic domains in STEM,” said Michael Forbes, Associate Professor in Physics and Astronomy at WSU. “The iSciMath program centered at WSU brings together core participants from academia, government and industry to foster the types of interactions and innovations seen at Bell Labs and Xerox PARC in their heyday, giving students both the breadth and depth needed to be both a jack of all trades and a master of some.”

Our member collaborations continue to bring value to the region and play a significant role in the momentum QIS is actively experiencing right now in the Pacific Northwest. This QIS momentum is corroborated by today’s Quantum Information Sciences (QIS) in Washington State Report released today from Washington Technology Industry Association.

About the Northwest Quantum Nexus

The Northwest Quantum Nexus is a coalition of research and industrial organizations in the Pacific Northwest and neighboring regions with the goal of advancing QIS research and developing a QIS-trained workforce. A core focus of NQN is scalable quantum computing for clean energy, with principal research directions in applications for quantum chemistry, quantum computing, quantum algorithms and materials for QIS.


Source: The Northwest Quantum Nexus

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