Trump bumps up quantum and AI research with private sector, national labs and academia

Intel is working on software and hardware for quantum research, including this quantum system at its Hillsboro, Oregon, campus. (Intel)

Quantum Information Science and Artificial Intelligence research got a boost with $1 billion in funding designated over five years by federal agencies and the White House to create 12 research institutes around the country.

The announcement, made Wednesday by Ivanka Trump, advisor to President Trump and U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios, creates five QIS institutes designed to accelerate American innovation into the emerging science. 

The National Science Foundation will lead AI research at seven universities,

while the Department of Energy will award $625 million (subject to congressional appropriations) to Argonne, Brookhaven, Fermi, Oak Ridge and Lawrence Berkeley National Labs for QIS research.  Private sector and academic institutions will contribute $340 million.

QIS work will focus on quantum networking, sensing, computing and materials manufacturing.

Argonne, with headquarters near Chicago, will lead a collaboration called Q-NEXT with 100 researchers from three DOE labs, 10 universities and 10 quantum tech companies. Nearby universities include University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Q-NEXT will create two national foundries to make quantum materials and devices and work on networks and sensing with quantum test beds. 

Potential benefits of the research include better ways to synthesize new drugs and creation of unhackable communications networks, according to a Q-NEXT blog.

The 10 companies affiliated with Q-NEXT include Intel, Microsoft, IBM and Boeing.  In a blog, Intel said it already working on a broad range of quantum research into hardware and software, with a focus on moving quantum into the real world.

 Fierce Electronics asked Jim Clarke, Intel’s director of Quantum hardware, what the hardest part of quantum tech development is going to be. He is part of the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee. Here’s his response via email:

"There are three key areas where we need to advance quantum hardware research. One is being able to develop a large enough number of coherent, resilient qubits that will be required to solve some practical, real-world problems. This will involve scaling up to thousands (and in many cases, millions of qubits).

"Secondly, we need to overcome the complexities of today’s wiring (both in and out of the quantum system as well as on-chip) of quantum systems. Today, a quantum computing chip has more wires coming off the chip than there are qubits so we have work to do to make interconnects more elegant.

"And, finally, we need to significantly improve our ability to rapidly test qubits to speed up our time-to-information (similar to the rapid testing we’re able to do today with our transistors). Intel’s quantum hardware research straddles all these areas.

" We’re actively pursuing the development of silicon spin qubits which closely resemble electron transistors and show some benefits in scaling to large quantum systems using existing manufacturing technologies. With our cryogenic chip Horse Ridge, we’re also radically simplifying the control electronics required to operate a quantum system. And, recently, we’ve installed the first cryogenic wafer prober designed to rapidly test qubits needed for quantum computing."

RELATED: Quantum sensor covers entire RF range