The U.S. Department of Energy is establishing five new National Quantum Information Science Research Centers, including a center led by Argonne National Laboratory and a center led by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, which are each projected to receive $115 million in funding over the next five years. Both laboratories are affiliated with the University of Chicago and are founding members of the Chicago Quantum Exchange.
The centers, which the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced on Aug. 26, are intended to foster transformational breakthroughs in quantum information science and related technology—bringing together world-leading experts and top-tier facilities in support of the National Quantum Initiative.
The Q-NEXT center, led by Argonne, brings together national laboratories, universities including the University of Chicago, and leading U.S. technology companies with the single goal of developing the science and technology to control and distribute quantum information. With 22 partners, it will create two national foundries for quantum materials, develop networks of sensors and secure communications systems, establish simulation and network testbeds, and train a next-generation, quantum-ready workforce to ensure U.S. scientific and economic leadership in this rapidly advancing field.
The Fermilab-led center, called the Superconducting Quantum Materials and Systems Center or SQMS, aims to build and deploy a beyond-state-of-the-art quantum computer based on superconducting technologies. The center also will develop new quantum sensors, which could lead to the discovery of the nature of dark matter and other elusive subatomic particles. The center will include 20 partners, including national labs, universities and industry.
“The Department of Energy is proud to be in partnership with a significant breadth of participants to support Quantum Information Science Centers around the country, and by allocating generous contributions from these participants we can continue to further scientific discovery through quantum technologies,” said Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar. “Our nation continues to lead in the development of industries of the future, and these five centers will marshal the full strength of our national laboratories, universities, and our public and private sector partnerships.”
A quantum race is underway as multiple nations compete to produce breakthroughs. The Chicago area has emerged as a leading hub of quantum research – home to two national laboratories, the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, the Chicago Quantum Exchange, and other world-class academic institutions, research organizations, and a number of industry leaders.
Scientists from Argonne and the University of Chicago achieved a major breakthrough in February when they successfully entangled photons across a 52-mile “quantum loop” in the Chicago suburbs, establishing one of the longest land-based quantum networks in the nation. That network will soon be connected to Fermilab, establishing a three-node, 80-mile test bed. In July, the Department of Energy came to the University of Chicago to unveil a blueprint for quantum research in the next decades.
“This is one of the most exciting developments for the economic vitality and prestige of our state. I could not be more delighted that Illinois will be home to not one, but two of the five quantum research centers in the U.S.— opening the newest chapter in the storied history of scientific and technological innovation in the state of Illinois,” said Governor J.B. Pritzker. “Our outstanding ecosystem of world-class academic institutions, national labs, Fortune 500 companies and tech startups has changed the world before, and it is poised to do so again. With our state’s investment in science and technology alongside the university and the Department of Energy, we lay the groundwork for scientific achievements that will shape Illinois, the nation—and the globe—for decades to come.”
“True breakthroughs in an area as challenging as quantum networking can only come from a powerful network itself—of partnerships and collaborations among colleges and universities, national labs, incubators and industry—and there is no better place in the nation than right here in Chicago,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “This impressive network is possible thanks to the creativity, strength and resolve of our residents, so many of whom make it their mission to use their expertise to improve communities both within Chicago and beyond. These scientific innovations of tomorrow are built on the investments of today, and with these two centers, Chicago is poised to lay a foundation of knowledge and technology for the future.”
“Illinois has been a longtime leader in understanding the science and developing the technology to move our country forward. With Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Chicago, and Fermilab behind them, I know our researchers will bring us significant breakthroughs in quantum technology,” said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “The Department of Energy made an excellent choice in supporting and basing two of its quantum centers in Illinois and partnering with some of the best universities in the nation to begin the next generation of quantum innovation.”
“Chicago is home to some of the largest collaborative teams working on quantum science in the world, and this is a major step forward for developing critical new applications that will have significant impact in the future,” said Robert J. Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago. “These centers will help to build a foundation of knowledge, to speed discovery, and particularly at the University of Chicago, to educate a workforce of quantum engineers for the future.”
Each of these centers has 20 or more national laboratory, university and industry partners, including many members of the Chicago Quantum Exchange, such as the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Northwestern University. Partners of the CQE participating in one of these centers include IBM, Applied Materials, Boeing, HRL Laboratories, ColdQuanta, Quantum Opus, Rigetti Computing, Intel, and Microsoft.
View releases from CQE member and partner institutions: