Columbia Partners in National Effort to Spur Advancements in Quantum Science

Three University researchers have joined a $115 million DOE-funded center that will pioneer quantum technologies that could benefit national security, pharmaceutical development, and more.

Carla Cantor
September 01, 2020

Columbia University will team up with scientists from other leading institutions, research laboratories, and industry in an initiative to accelerate quantum research and realize the full potential of quantum-based applications to help tackle real-world challenges.

The University was named a partner in the Co-design Center for Quantum Advantage (C2QA), funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The new center will receive up to $115 million over five years to develop materials, devices, software, and applications that will serve as a platform for the next-generation of quantum computing capabilities.

C2QA, led by the Long Island-based Brookhaven National Laboratory, is one of five multi-institution research centers created by the DOE Office of Science following the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018, which launched a $965 million federal program to facilitate and foster quantum innovation. The program aims to enhance national security and economic competitiveness, and retain the nation’s global leadership in scientific research and development

“We are excited about working with the talented, interdisciplinary C2QA team on building the tools necessary for the United States to create quantum computers that offer a large computational advantage,” said Dmitri Basov, professor of physics and one of three Columbia lead investigators in the C2QA initiative.

Other lead C2QA investigators from Columbia include Alexander Gaeta and Michal Lipson, professors of applied physics and applied mathematics and of electrical engineering in the School of Engineering.

In all, two dozen institutions and more than 70 lead investigators will participate in C2QA, which will bring together scientists and engineers from a variety of backgrounds. This multidisciplinary expertise and a network of world-class research facilities will enable the team to co-design the solutions needed to build quantum systems that outperform today’s computers.

Gaeta said the Columbia team will focus on developing cutting-edge photonics technology to interface with microwave devices in quantum computers and on deploying a revolutionary nano-imaging system to investigate the fundamental physics of materials and circuits employed in these quantum systems.

“We hope our efforts will contribute toward the development quantum systems that will lead to breakthroughs in how we collect, communicate, and process information,” Gaeta said. “Ultimately, such systems offer advantages that could revolutionize the design of new chemical compounds, including drugs, and create ultra-sensitive sensors that could not be realized with traditional computers and devices.”

Other partnering institutions in C2QA in addition to Columbia include Ames Laboratory, Caltech, City College of New York, Harvard University, Howard University, IBM, Johns Hopkins University, MIT, Montana State University, National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Ames Research Center, Northwestern University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Princeton University, State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, Stony Brook University, Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, University of California-Santa Barbara, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, University of Pittsburgh, University of Washington, Virginia Tech, and Yale University.