U.S. Dept. of Energy Updates on Quantum Research Centers
Energy’s Undersecretary for Science Provides Update on Forthcoming Quantum Research Centers
Excerpts and salient points ~
+ In May 2019, Energy launched a request for information to gauge stakeholder interest and help determine and define what the centers could eventually be. The RFI and subsequent funding announcement deliberately lay out five specific technical areas of interest that the quantum centers could be structured to support: quantum communication, quantum computing and emulation, quantum foundries, quantum devices and sensors, materials and chemistry for quantum information science systems and applications.
[B]ut final, formal applications are due April 10. “So we’re now actually seeing who’s interested in which of those areas, and that will help us define if we do two [centers] or if we do five—or somewhere in between.”
+ Dabbar explained that an early challenge Energy saw from a technology standpoint was the inherent crossover between those streamlined areas.“If you were focused, for example, on quantum computing, some of the exact same technologies could have applications to quantum internet or it could have applications to quantum sensing,” he said. The more recent funding announcement emphasizes in bold that “each center must integrate sub-topics from at least two of the technical areas of interest” listed.
+ The president’s budget request for fiscal 2021 put forth a range of quantum investments (including some specifically for the centers), and Dabbar added that Energy already has “total funding for the startup year of the centers” in 2020. But while funding’s not an onset issue, certain details around what will follow are still up in the air—and greatly depend on the formal applications the agency receives. For instance, when asked where exactly the centers might be established across the U.S., Dabbar said it could very much depend on what will be formally proposed.
+ “If people are bringing things to the table, such as fabrication facilities and other facilities that would be testbeds for computers, testbeds for quantum communication, like repeater systems—if they have that already, that’s an advantage,” the undersecretary said. “We would certainly encourage people who bring facilities to the table as part of their bid, but that doesn’t preclude us from dollars going to help build up additional facilities.”
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