WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) plans to invest up to $30 million over the next three years in Quantum Information Science (QIS). QIS is a new, wide-ranging area of research that is expected to lay the groundwork for the next generation of computing and information processing, as well as an array of other innovative technologies.
This new initiative will provide up to $10 million per year for three years on a competitive basis for research and new equipment at DOE’s five Nanoscale Science Research Centers (NSRCs) located at DOE National Laboratories around the nation. It will enable these facilities to take their first steps into the new quantum era. Out-year funding will be dependent on congressional appropriations.
“Quantum Information Science represents the future in a wide range of fields from computing to physics to materials science, and it will play a major role in shaping the technologies of tomorrow,” said Secretary Perry. “It’s vital that American science and American scientists lead the way into this new era, and these planned investments in our DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers are an important first step.”
The NSRC QIS initiative is one of a series of funding awards in QIS that DOE’s Office of Science plans for Fiscal Year 2018. Awards under these other solicitations are expected to provide additional funds in support of QIS research to institutions across the nation before the end of FY 2018.
The growing interest in QIS has been driven by both need and opportunity. The need comes from the slowing of Moore’s Law—the famous 1965 prediction by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore that computing power would double each year (later amended to eighteen months) because of the doubling of transistors on microchips. In recent years, as the number of transistors per chip has approached physical limits, the doubling has slowed. The expectation is that at some point, such doubling will cease to be possible within the world of “classical physics,” or the normal physical world.
This has led researchers to probe the world of “quantum physics,” or subatomic reality, in search of alternative answers. In the quantum world it is possible for things to seem to be and not be at the same time, and to encounter what are called nonlocal effects. The thought is that these strange quantum effects, phenomena such as “superposition” and “entanglement”, may provide an alternative approach to information processing and other technologies.
This alternative opportunity has come from scientists’ increasing ability to probe the quantum world with precision. The emergence of nanoscience and cutting-edge nanotechnology research facilities such as the NSRCs have provided a major starting point into quantum reality, which is why DOE is taking the next step in quantum studies. The effort is expected to generate a multitude of new, exotic materials with unprecedented properties as well as contribute to the development of many new technologies.
NSRC users, which together serve a community of over 3,000 researchers from universities, National Laboratories, nonprofits, and industry annually are expected to benefit from the development of new NSRC capabilities that result from the QIS initiative.
The five NSRCs invited to submit proposals for QIS funding include the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory; the Center for Functional Nanomaterials at Brookhaven National Laboratory; the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies jointly managed by Sandia National Laboratory and Los Alamos Laboratory.