University of Arizona scientists to build what Einstein called science fiction with award granted towards quantum networking

University of Arizona scientists to build what Einstein called science fiction with award granted towards quantum networking

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey joined scientists from the new University of Arizona-based Center for Quantum Networks to talk about how the center will help develop the “internet of the future.”

The National Science Foundation has awarded Arizona a five-year, $26 million grant – with an additional $24 million, five-year option – to lead the Center for Quantum Networks, or CQN, which is a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. The award has placed Arizona at the forefront of quantum networking technologies, which are expected to transform areas such as medicine, finance, data security, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and smart devices, which together often are referred to as “the internet of things.”

“Arizona continues to lead the nation in innovation. Establishing the Center for Quantum Networks will position the state as a global leader in advancing this technology and developing the workforce of the future,” Ducey said. “We’re proud of the work the University of Arizona has done to secure this grant and look forward to the scientific achievements that will result from it.”

The CQN will take center stage in a burgeoning field. Companies like IBM, Microsoft and Google are racing to build reliable quantum computers, and China has invested billions of dollars in quantum technology research. The U.S. has begun a serious push to exceed China’s investment and to “win” the global race to harness quantum technologies.

The key new resource that the quantum network enables – by being able to communicate qubits from one point to another – is to create “entanglement” across various distant users of the network. Entanglement – another hallmark of quantum mechanics so strange that even Einstein was reluctant to accept it at first – allows a pair of particles, including qubits, to stay strongly correlated despite being separated by large physical distances. Entanglement enables communication among parties that is impossible to hack.

One of the center’s goals is to develop technologies that will put the entanglement principle to use in real-world applications – for example, to stitch together far-apart sensors, such as the radio telescopes that glimpsed the first image of a black hole in space, into one giant instrument that is far more capable than the sum of the individual sensors. Similar far-reaching implications are expected in the autonomous vehicles industry and in medicine.

According to the university, quantum-enabled sensors will be more sensitive than classical ones, and will dramatically improve technologies such as microscopes used in biomedical research to look for cancer cells, sensors on low-Earth-orbit satellites, and magnetic field sensors used for positioning and navigation.

The center will bring together scientists, engineers and social scientists working on quantum information science and engineering and its societal impacts. Arizona has teamed up with core partners Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University to work on the core hardware technologies for quantum networks and create an entrepreneurial ecosystem for quantum network technology transfer.

In addition to creating a diverse quantum engineering workforce, the center will develop a roadmap with industry partners to help prioritize CQN’s research investments in response to new application concepts generated by the center.

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