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Argonne Receives Two Awards From DARPA for Quantum Information Science



The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago recently received two awards from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in collaboration with industry and academic partners. The awards will fund two multi-year projects in an effort to secure the nation’s leadership in the field of quantum information science.


Press release from Argonne National Laboratory
May 24th 2020 | 429 readers

Aerial view of Argonne National Laboratory. Image courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory.
Aerial view of Argonne National Laboratory. Image courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory.
The DARPA awards are a part of the ONISQ program — Optimization with Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum devices — aimed at developing novel quantum algorithms and quantum systems that can scale to hundreds or thousands of qubits with high performance and reliability. The objective is to show the quantum advantage of quantum-hybrid systems over classical systems for a range of difficult combinatorial optimization problems, including resource allocation, logistics and image recognition.

The first award is with ColdQuanta, a quantum atomics company. ​“With this award, ColdQuanta, Argonne and our other partners will develop a scalable, cold-atom-based quantum computing hardware and software platform, and demonstrate quantum advantage on real-world problems,” said Tom Noël, group leader for quantum computing at ColdQuanta. ​“We believe our collective team has the expertise and passion to achieve the project objectives and are thrilled to have been awarded the contract from DARPA.”

The total award is valued at about $7.4 million. Argonne’s partners in this collaboration are ColdQuanta, the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Raytheon Technologies, NIST Gaithersburg, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Innsbruck and Tufts University.

The second award is with Ilya Safro, an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Clemson University. The goal of the project is to develop a family of hybrid quantum-classical multilevel algorithms for solving efficient combinatorial optimization problems on Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) devices. The total award is valued at about $1 million.

“Exploring the ways to tackle combinatorial optimization problems using hybrid quantum-classical algorithms is one of the most exciting research areas of quantum information science, which is aimed at finding practical applications for quantum devices,” Safro said. ​“The Argonne-Clemson collaboration supported by DARPA will give an excellent opportunity to several students not only to study quantum computing and solve the problems in national security, but also work shoulder-to-shoulder with world-class experts at Argonne National Laboratory.”

“Argonne is delighted to collaborate with ColdQuanta, Clemson University and other partners to use the largest U.S. Department of Energy supercomputers in the world to demonstrate quantum advantage and develop quantum algorithms with quantum simulators,” said Yuri Alexeev, principal project specialist at Argonne and a senior scientist at the University of Chicago Consortium for Advanced Science and Engineering.


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