Quantum technology is moving from the lab to startups. Here’s why it’s a strength for UMD
+ Computing is one several areas where that prospect of new approaches is bringing interest in preparing for quantum technology in areas like pharmaceuticals and drug discovery, national security, finance and manufacturing. It’s an area of technology where UMD is looking to build on longtime scientific strength, and spur entrepreneurship.
+ Already, some of the most attention for quantum technology out of College Park these days is coming from a startup. IonQ, which was founded in 2015 by a team that includes JQI faculty member Chris Monroe, is building hardware and software that leverages a particular type of the technology called trapped ion quantum computing. The company turned heads in October when it unveiled a hardware system that it says surpassed capabilities of IBM and Google.
“Quantum can be for us what silicon was for San Jose,” said Julie Lenzer, the university’s chief innovation officer. “It’s that big of a platform technology.”
+ For now, quantum computers are also large. Walsworth said they’re likely to be networked together, then accessed via the cloud. In that sense, it’s a reminder of the early days with classical computers, before integrated circuits allowed room-sized machines to take up a little spot on a desk. One future challenge might be figuring out a microchip-equivalent.
+ But first they’ll need the equivalent of an ENIAC moment. One point that might help us determine when quantum they’ve arrived is when they’ll be the best option to solve problems. IonQ applies a term for this called “broad quantum advantage,” which Chapman defines as “when an engineer naturally decides that a quantum computer is better suited for their task over a classical computer.” The company’s target date for this? 2025.
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