Pioneering Quantum Computing

The United States displays its commitment to become a world leader in the field of quantum science


The U.S. government has demonstrated expansive interest in quantum information science (QIS) throughout the last several months. President Trump signed the National Quantum Initiative Act late last year, releasing more than $1.2 billion in funding for quantum technology research and development. According to experts, quantum computing has the potential to spearhead breakthroughs in many areas of society, to include science, healthcare, cybersecurity, and much more.

The National Quantum Initiative aims to ensure the United States’ position as a leader in creating new ways to obtain and process information. The law established quantum research and education centers at the National Science Foundation, led to the formation of a National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee to the president, and mandated the development of national QIS Research Centers by the Department of Energy (DOE). During the 2020 Fiscal Year, the DOE’s Office of Science intends to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement to establish two or more QIS Research Centers.

“The QIS Centers will be the flagship of DOE’s participation in the National Quantum Initiative,” said DOE Under Secretary of Science Paul Dabbar in a May 31 press release.

Also in May, in an effort to further boost policy initiatives in favor of QIS advancement, the White House’s National Science and Technology Council Subcommittee on QIS issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking input from federal agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector to advise the administration on quantum policy.

Earlier this month, the United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) also took a significant step toward quantum innovation. IBM Q Network—a community of Fortune 500 companies, academic institutions, startups, and national research labs working to advance quantum computing—and the AFRL joined forces to apply QIS for the United States Air Force.This partnership is being classified as the first of its kind in the Department of Defense.

“AFRL is pleased to partner with IBM to become a hub in the Q Network as IBM is a world leader in the development of quantum computing hardware,” said Dr. Michael Hayduk, deputy director of AFRL’s Information Directorate, in a press release.

Through this partnership, AFRL will have access to commercial quantum systems to explore practical applications relevant to the Air Force. The lab will also be able to work with IBM researchers and partners across academia, industry, and government to investigate Air Force problems on hardware that could lead to a “quantum advantage” over conventional computing.

Interested in learning more about QIS? Quantum computing was a main theme at this USGIF’s recent GEOINT Foreword event as part of the GEOINT 2019 Symposium. Keynote speakers Bo Ewald of ColdQuanta and William Hurley of Strangeworks each gave presentations that helped make the topic more accessible and revealed the technology’s relevance to the geospatial intelligence community.

Photo courtesy of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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