Q-NEXT’s mission is to develop the science and technology for controlling and distributing quantum information, enabling pivotal discoveries and U.S. competitiveness in quantum science and engineering.
Q-NEXT partners accomplish this by:
- Advancing research in quantum communication, materials, sensing and simulation.
- Creating and strengthening connections between science organizations and industry to build a national quantum ecosystem.
- Launching foundries dedicated to the development of quantum materials and technologies.
- Leveraging world-class science facilities, including supercomputers, light sources, and materials fabrication labs at the national laboratories, to accelerate QIS research.
- Building the quantum workforce.
Advances in quantum information science, known as QIS, have the potential to revolutionize the way we process and share information. The implications of QIS on our economy and nation could be transformational.
We are already seeing significant interest arising from the promise of quantum systems to provide encrypted communication channels perfectly secure against hacking; novel solutions to highly complex optimization problems in areas such as logistics, finance and healthcare, leading for example to better methods of synthesizing new drugs; sensors that achieve unprecedented sensitivities and may be used in areas of biological, astronomical, technological and military interest; and new pathways for scaling up quantum computers, with applications in quantum simulations, cryptanalysis and logistics optimization
QIS uses the principles of quantum mechanics to open up completely new ways to collect and process information. Quantum mechanics describes the laws of nature at roughly the scale of the atom, and the discovery of these laws was one of the most important achievements of modern science. It enabled the development of revolutionary technologies such as the transistors that power electronics and computers, the ultrasensitive detectors used in medical imaging, and the atomic clocks in GPS satellites.
Today, we are exploiting the governing principles of quantum mechanics to overcome many of the fundamental limitations of our traditional sensing and communications networks, important areas of focus within Q-NEXT.
One of the nonintuitive principles of quantum mechanics is that spying on a quantum-encrypted communication causes the communicated information to be corrupted and unreadable. Quantum communication can, therefore, be fundamentally secure in a way that no traditional communication can.
Quantum-based computers exploit these phenomena as well. For some problems, particularly in areas such as cryptanalysis or simulations of the physical world, quantum-based computers will perform calculations much more efficiently and accurately than traditional computers.
Developments in quantum sensing will have several applications in quantum computing, including in the use of these sensors as qubits, the basic unit of quantum information.
QIS is a rapidly evolving field, and we expect to identify entirely new applications that benefit people in ways that we could never envision today, just as 100 years ago the pioneers of quantum theory could never have imagined that their work would lead to the technologies we use today. Advances in QIS are likely to vastly improve our lives in the decades ahead.
Next-generation science and technology
Q-NEXT advances QIS by tackling one of the most prominent challenges facing the field: manipulating and connecting entangled states of matter. Q-NEXT is developing technologies that can control, store and transmit entangled quantum information at distances that could be as small as a computer chip or as large as the distance between Chicago and San Francisco.
Entanglement is a special, powerful correlation between quantum particles available only at nature’s smallest scales. It occurs when two or more particles are inseparably correlated. When one makes a measurement of one particle in an entangled pair, one gains information about both. This is true no matter how much physical distance separates them.
Sharing and transferring entangled states of matter requires devices that can mediate between different mediums, devices, systems or physical states. The delivery of these quantum interconnects, as these mediating technologies are called, will enable future secure communication links, quantum sensor networks, and simulation and network testbeds. Q-NEXT is working to develop interconnects by developing new quantum materials and integrating them into devices and systems, developing new classes of ultraprecise sensors, and overcoming losses that occur when quantum information is communicated over long distances. The center also developing simulation and characterization tools that can be applied to these quantum systems.
To achieve its mission, Q-NEXT’s strategy is to pursue three foundational research areas (quantum foundries, extreme-scale characterization, and quantum simulation and sensing) with three science and technology areas (materials and integration, quantum sensing, and quantum communications). Learn more about Q-NEXT research.
In bringing together roughly 100 leading experts in quantum science and engineering at national laboratories, schools and leading technology companies, Q-NEXT is helping build a quantum ecosystem that will enhance U.S. competitiveness by accelerating technology commercialization for the emerging quantum economy.
Quantum problems are diverse and multifaceted, and it takes an equally diverse set of researchers and facilities to tackle them. Q-NEXT members are leaders in the physics and chemistry of quantum systems, material processing and device design, quantum simulations and architectures, and algorithms and programming, and our research spans fundamental science, devices, systems, prototypes, and applications. By uniting scientists and engineers in diverse disciplines under one umbrella, Q-NEXT fosters a fruitful environment for advancing QIS. And by integrating both industry and academia in every level of the organization, Q-NEXT creates bridges between them, providing each with resources and capabilities that would not otherwise be available to them.
This close collaboration enhances the center’s effectiveness in developing transformative technologies with commercial applications and transferring them to industry to benefit the U.S. economy. There is a growing understanding of the potential of quantum information science to disrupt industries through fundamentally new ways of working with information. Companies want to stay informed of key developments so they can stay ahead of the competition.
Guiding Q-NEXT activity will be a technology roadmap, developed by Q-NEXT members, that outlines the research and scientific discoveries needed for the distribution of quantum entanglement, especially for impactful progress in quantum computing, communications and sensing, on a 10-to 15-year timescale. The roadmap will also help inform the growth of a national quantum ecosystem.
National quantum resources
One of the challenges in developing new devices for quantum information systems is the lack of standardized, high-quality materials. To address this need, the Q-NEXT team is building two national quantum foundries, one focused on solid-state quantum technology at Argonne in the Chicago area and the other focused on superconducting quantum materials at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Together these foundries will act as a quantum factory to produce a reliable supply of high-quality, standardized materials and devices that will support both known and yet-to-be-discovered quantum-enabled applications.
The center will also establish the first-ever National Quantum Devices Database, which will promote the development and fabrication of next-generation quantum devices.
Q-NEXT is building the Intel Solid-State Test Bed, which will be used in the development of every level of a quantum device or system, from qubits to electronics to high-level architectures.
Q-NEXT leverages world-class scientific facilities at its partner institutions, as well as advanced instrumentation at member companies, increasing partner access to these facilities and accelerating R&D. These include the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, Advanced Photon Source, Center for Nanoscale Materials, and Tandem Linac Accelerator System (all at Argonne), the Linac Coherent Light Source, and the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (both at SLAC).
The center draws on these national resources to provide a robust supply chain of materials and devices, simulation and modeling platforms, and new methods of sensing and communication, all of which are critical for a robust quantum economy.
Careers for the next generation
The quantum technologies of the future will need scientists and engineers — in training now — to build, program and maintain them. As we learn more about quantum materials, quantum scientists will be needed to harness this barely tapped potential. Q-NEXT partners provide some of the very first and few available training and hands-on experiences.
Q-NEXT is creating new programs that take advantage of the breadth of its partnerships and give students the opportunity to learn in an environment lies at the intersection of the national labs, academic, and industry. The close collaboration between these Q-NEXT partners provides new opportunities to train the next generation of U.S. scientists and engineers.
Our programs may pair Q-NEXT university students with academic and industry mentors to give them practical experience working with industrial scientists on quantum information problems. The center also leverages degree and certificate programs that have been created within the Q-NEXT partner network and use best practices from these programs to inform our plans to train a wider student body. These successful programs include academic degrees that are specific to quantum science, as well as programs like the Certificate in Quantum Science and Engineering developed at the Chicago Quantum Exchange, to help existing researchers with a good fundamental base of scientific knowledge reapply that knowledge to quantum systems.