The U.S. Department of Energy is establishing five new National Quantum Information Science Research Centers, including a center led by Argonne National Laboratory and a center led by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, which are each projected to receive $115 million in funding over the next five years. Both laboratories are affiliated with the University of Chicago.
The centers, which the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced on Aug. 26, are intended to foster transformational breakthroughs in quantum information science and related technology—bringing together world-leading experts and top-tier facilities in support of the National Quantum Initiative.
The Q-NEXT center, led by Argonne, brings together national laboratories, universities including the University of Chicago, and leading U.S. technology companies with the single goal of developing the science and technology to control and distribute quantum information. With 22 partners, it will create two national foundries for quantum materials, develop networks of sensors and secure communications systems, establish simulation and network testbeds, and train a next-generation, quantum-ready workforce to ensure U.S. scientific and economic leadership in this rapidly advancing field.
The Fermilab-led center, called the Superconducting Quantum Materials and Systems Center or SQMS, aims to build and deploy a beyond-state-of-the-art quantum computer based on superconducting technologies. The center also will develop new quantum sensors, which could lead to the discovery of the nature of dark matter and other elusive subatomic particles. The center will include 20 partners, including national labs, universities and industry.
“The Department of Energy is proud to be in partnership with a significant breadth of participants to support Quantum Information Science Centers around the country, and by allocating generous contributions from these participants we can continue to further scientific discovery through quantum technologies,” said Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar. “Our nation continues to lead in the development of industries of the future, and these five centers will marshal the full strength of our national laboratories, universities, and our public and private sector partnerships.”
The University of Chicago manages Argonne for the Department of Energy through UChicago Argonne, LLC; and Fermilab together with the Universities Research Association, Inc. through the Fermi Research Alliance.
A quantum race is underway as multiple nations compete to produce breakthroughs. The Chicago area has emerged as a leading hub of quantum research—home to two national laboratories, the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, and other world-class academic institutions, and a number of industry leaders.
Scientists from Argonne and the University of Chicago achieved a major breakthrough in February when they successfully entangled photons across a 52-mile “quantum loop” in the Chicago suburbs, establishing one of the longest land-based quantum networks in the nation. That network will soon be connected to Fermilab, establishing a three-node, 80-mile test bed. In July, the Department of Energy came to the University of Chicago to unveil a blueprint for quantum research in the next decades.