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CHIPS Articles: NIST Launches Consortium to Advance Quantum Industry

NIST Launches Consortium to Advance Quantum Industry
By CHIPS Magazine - October 1, 2018
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, charged with promoting U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness, has signed a cooperative research and development agreement with SRI International to lead a consortium focused on quantum science and engineering. SRI International is a nonprofit, independent R&D organization headquartered in Menlo Park, California.

The Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QEDC) will work to expand U.S. leadership in global quantum research and development and the emerging quantum industry in computing, communications and sensing. Quantum technologies leverage the unique properties that govern the behavior of the fundamental building blocks of matter, including electrons, protons, neutrons and photons, NIST explained.

Scientists predict that advancing quantum science could lead to game-busters in conventional computing, cybersecurity, cryptography, artificial intelligence, astrophysics, chemistry, data analytics and a host of as yet unknown research areas.

The consortium will support innovative advances in controlling quantum systems, which hold great promise for America’s economy and national security, said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Walter G. Copan. “This new consortium will effectively align resources and quantum research and development efforts between federal, academic and industry partners to ensure America’s position at the forefront of scientific discovery and development.”

The inauguration of the new consortium follows on the heels of a Sept. 25, 2018, Quantum Information Science Summit, sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. At the summit, the Administration released its National Strategic Overview for Quantum Information Science, which summaries a whole of government commitment to maintaining and expanding the nation’s leadership in quantum information science.

With funding from both the government and private-sector member organizations, NIST said the QEDC will:

  • Determine workforce needs essential to the development of quantum technologies;
  • Provide efficient public-private sector coordination;
  • Identify technology solutions for filling gaps in research or infrastructure;
  • Highlight use cases and grand challenges to accelerate development efforts; and
  • Foster intellectual property sharing, efficient supply chains, technology forecasting and quantum literacy.

“The consortium provides a forum for industry to share views on development of a quantum economy,” said Acting Director of the NIST Physical Measurement Laboratory Carl Williams. “These industry insights can then help NIST, the Department of Commerce, and the rest of the federal government scale our basic R&D portfolio.”

QEDC members will collaborate on precompetitive R&D, such as quantum device design and prototyping, increase efficiencies while sharing resources, and leverage their own research investments with those of the federal government and other members. The aim of the consortium includes enabling access to quantum engineering capabilities to efficiently create, test and validate potential technology platforms and processes, NIST said.

NIST and SRI are planning workshops, which they will announce in the coming months, to address the consortium’s structure, governance and major R&D areas essential for the emerging quantum industry.

To learn more about NIST, visit www.nist.gov.

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