Emerging Tech

DOE launches quantum funding opportunity

Image Credit: NASA Ames / John Hardman 

The Department of Energy announced $625 million in funding opportunities for Quantum Information Science Research Centers.

The Energy Department's Office of Science issued the proposals on Jan. 10, saying it would fund between two and five such centers over the next five years in support of the National Quantum Initiative Act.

Individual awards are planned in the range of $10 million to $25 million per year over the five-year span.

The legislation, signed into law in January 2019, launched a 10-year plan to accelerate quantum computing research and development in the U.S., tapping the Department of Energy, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation to head the effort. 

"The National Quantum Initiative…leverages the combined strengths of academia, industry, and DOE laboratories to drive QIS breakthroughs," Chief Technology Officer of the United States Michael Kratsios said in a Jan. 10 statement.

The federal government sees quantum computing, as well as exascale computing, as critical pieces of the nation's economic development and national defense.

The funding opportunities represent a milestone in the Energy Department's push toward quantum computing, said Barbara Helland, associate director of the Office of Science, during a Jan.13 meeting of the Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee. 

The opportunities are the first large-scale quantum technology development efforts that span the technical breadth of the Office of Science, which has six major program offices. The opportunities, Helland told FCW, will ensure more continuity of, and access to, quantum research within five technical areas, including quantum communications, computing and emulation; devices and sensors; system materials and chemistry; and system component fabrication.

Quantum computing technology holds the promise of calculation speeds that eclipse those offered by today's "classical" machines, but there are serious technical obstacles to making quantum computing work.

"The interdisciplinary nature of the field, the reliance on complex, sophisticated, and precise physical arrangements in order to observe and utilize quantum behavior, and the potential for substantial economic consequences are the major drivers of the National Quantum Initiative," the funding announcement states.

The agency is looking for teams of potential awardees from universities, national labs, institutions, agencies and industry. The opportunities give potential respondents maximum flexibility to team and collaborate with industry, agencies and research institutions, through cooperative agreements, field work authorizations and interagency agreements, said Helland.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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