Department of Energy Announces $218 Million for Quantum Information Science

Field Will Shape Future of Information Processing

The following news release, issued today by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), announces funding that DOE has awarded for quantum information science research. DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory is leading one of the projects and contributing to another project, as described below.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $218 million in funding for 85 research awards in the important emerging field of Quantum Information Science (QIS). The awards were made in conjunction with the White House Summit on Advancing American Leadership in QIS, highlighting the high priority that the Administration places on advancing this multidisciplinary area of research, which is expected to lay the foundation for the next generation of computing and information processing as well as an array of other innovative technologies.

“QIS represents the next frontier in the Information Age,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “At a time of fierce international competition, these investments will ensure sustained American leadership in a field likely to shape the long-term future of information processing and yield multiple new technologies that benefit our economy and society.”

The awards are led by scientists at 28 institutions of higher learning across the nation and nine DOE national laboratories and cover a range of topics from developing hardware and software for a new generation of quantum computers, to the synthesis and characterization of new materials with special quantum properties, to probing the ways in which quantum computing and information processing provide insights into such cosmic phenomena as Dark Matter and black holes.

Research is expected to bear fruit over the long run in many potential new applications. It is known that quantum computers—once fully mature systems are developed and deployed—will be capable of solving certain large, extremely complex problems that lie entirely beyond the capacity of even today’s most powerful supercomputers. 

In addition, among other applications, quantum systems hold out promise as potentially exquisitely sensitive sensors, with a variety of possible medical, national security, and scientific applications down the road.

Quantum computing is also almost certainly destined to revolutionize the field of encryption, a critical capability in an era when cybersecurity remains an overarching concern.

Three major program offices within the Department’s Office of Science—Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR), Basic Energy Sciences (BES), and High Energy Physics (HEP)—participated in the initiative and are separately administering the awards, which were made on the basis of competitive peer review.

ASCR awards were made under a Funding Opportunity Announcement and three Laboratory Announcements to be found herehere, and here; a list of ASCR awards can be found here.

BES awards were made under a Funding Opportunity Announcement and a Laboratory Announcement; a lists of BES awards can be found here

HEP awards were also made under Funding Opportunity Announcement and a Laboratory Announcement; a list of HEP awards can be found here.

Depending on the topic and program, awards range in duration from two to five years. Total funding for Fiscal Year 2018 will be $73 million, with outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations.

Brookhaven Lab projects

DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory is leading one of the projects that was awarded funding and contributing to another:

Building the Quantum Material Press: An Enabling Nanoscience Facility for Quantum Information Science

Quantum information science is an emerging field that holds promise for revolutionary, foundational advances in the areas of computing, communications, and sensing. Bringing these technologies to fruition requires the development of new classes of materials, purposefully designed with these QIS applications in mind, and a fundamental understanding of their quantum properties.

To accelerate the discovery of such next-generation QIS materials, Brookhaven Lab’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN)—a DOE Office of Science User Facility—was awarded funding to develop and build the Quantum Material Press (QPress). This first-of-its-kind facility will be capable of assembling atomically thin, two-dimensional (2D) component materials into layered quantum heterostructures. In these stacked materials, size restricts the movement of electrons in such a way that they become confined in space. This “quantum confinement” endows these materials with exotic electronic, magnetic, and optical properties, which are the basis for QIS. Through a separate DOE-funded project, Brookhaven Lab collaborators at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will study the foundational science of the QPress and make use of this unique facility as it becomes operational.

At its heart, the QPress will be an automated “printing press,” capable of peeling atomically thin sheets of materials from their parent single crystals. The QPress will then re-assemble layers peeled from different types of crystals into stacks, creating materials that have never existed before. QPress users will be able to design entirely new materials by selecting sheets from component libraries and programming the sheets’ order of assembly and the relative alignment of atomic crystal structures between layers—all of which influence the QIS properties of the resulting material.

The QPress will enable scientists to quickly move from designing materials to testing the materials’ functionally. By expanding the range of 2D materials possible to study and the scale and complexity of heterostructures that can be synthesized, the QPress will help scientists identify the desired optimal structures for QIS.

“Nanoscience is integral to advancing QIS research,” said CFN Director Chuck Black.  “The CFN is thrilled for the opportunity to construct and operate this unique scientific instrument in support of user science. Our experience operating complex facilities for nanoscience and our close working relationship with leading scientists at Harvard and MIT will be important to the project’s success.”

Foundations of Quantum Computing for Gauge Theories and Quantum Gravity

By taking advantage of the strange ability of subatomic particles to simultaneously exist in more than one state, quantum computers are expected to perform calculations exponentially faster than today’s computers. The increased processing power will enable scientists to tackle complex computational problems that are too large or complex for classical computers. For example, it will help them simulate the evolution of strongly interacting particles in collisions, the microscopic behavior of gravitational systems, and the emergence of space and time. 

The team of scientists on this project will design the building blocks of universal quantum computers needed to solve such problems and develop algorithms that can scale to the appropriate size for a given system. In addition, they will explore the possibility of using existing experimental setups or developing new ones—with cold atoms or trapped ions, for instance—to simulate quantum lattice models for studies in particle physics. Crystal lattice models have been successfully applied in condensed matter physics to study the arrangement of atoms, ions, or molecules in crystalline materials. The team will adapt this approach to support studies of the real-time dynamics of particles and other investigations in high-energy physics. 

“With the recent development of near-term quantum computers, the time is right to investigate how quantum computing can be applied to problems in the strong interaction, gravity, and the theoretical connections between them,” said co-investigator Michael McGuigan, a computational scientist in Brookhaven Lab’s Computational Science Initiative. “Often, trying to solve specific problems in physics points to new algorithms and techniques for computation that can be used for other applications. This project will bring together a team with the expertise to make this happen for upcoming quantum computers.”

The project is a collaboration between Brookhaven Lab, Boston University, Michigan State University, Microsoft, MIT, Syracuse University, University of California Santa Barbara, University of Iowa, and University of Maryland.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit

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2018-13148  |  INT/EXT  |  Newsroom