Collaboration to help advance quantum revolution

The University of Delaware has joined the Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance — a hub for quantum technology research, development, innovation and education that seeks to advance U.S. and regional leadership in the coming quantum revolution.

The alliance, referred to as MQA, involves university, government and industry partners in the region and is organized and being facilitated by the University of Maryland.

In the 20th century, the first quantum revolution produced transistors, computers, lasers, the global positioning system (GPS) and many other technologies that transformed society. For the next wave of innovation, researchers are working to manipulate and control the behavior of atoms and electrons at dimensions at least a million times smaller than the width of a human hair to produce next-generation technologies — powerful quantum computers capable of tackling computing problems that are impossible today, quantum sensors that can detect phenomena at much lower levels than at present, and quantum cryptography methods for impenetrably secure transmission of information, to name only a few.

The University of Delaware has more than 30 faculty working on various aspects of quantum science and engineering, according to Matthew Doty, professor of materials science and engineering and UD’s lead technical contact for the MQA. UD researchers are developing quantum sensors to detect astrophysical phenomena such as dark matter, building more precise nuclear clocks, generating new algorithms to implement quantum error correction and developing new magnetic materials to transmit quantum information. And that’s barely scratching the surface.

UD has significant quantum research efforts underway in scope and scale. As just a few examples, UD’s Ilya Safro, associate professor of computer and information science, is leading projects funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop hybrid quantum-classical algorithms that will enable control of quantum devices. Marianna Safronova, professor of physics and astronomy, is co-principal investigator of an NSF Quantum Leap Challenge Institute to develop improved quantum sensors. And Doty himself is leading a major NSF project to advance new photonic quantum device architectures that can be scaled to the large number of quantum bits (qubits) necessary to realize the full potential of quantum computing.

“The Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance provides an important networking nucleus,” Doty said. “There are a number of working groups building connections between faculty and industry efforts in the different focus areas of quantum science, which are seeding potential collaborations. There is also significant discussion about the new educational paradigms needed to create the ‘quantum workforce’ needed by industry.”

Current goals of the MQA include:

  • accelerating the strong quantum innovation by and among alliance members, and across the Mid-Atlantic region
  • promoting interdisciplinary, applied and translational quantum tech research and commercialization efforts and outcomes
  • making relevant quantum expertise and tech easier to find and access
  • sharing resources and identifying regional research infrastructure needs and opportunities
  • building a quantum workforce by facilitating curriculum sharing and access to unique equipment/labs/expertise and creating unique shared experiential learning programs
  • elevating diversity and inclusion as a core part of alliance efforts
  • connecting/amplifying public and K-12 education campaigns
  • building international partnerships

The 24 members of the MQA include Amazon Web Services, Booz Allen Hamilton, Bowie State University, CCDC Army Research Laboratory, George Mason University, Georgetown University, IBM, IonQ, Johns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Morgan State University, MITRE Corporation, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Northrop Grumman, Pittsburgh Quantum Institute, Protiviti, Quantopo, Quaxys, Qrypt, University of Delaware, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, University of Maryland, College Park, and Virginia Tech.

| Illustration by Jeffrey C. Chase |