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DARPA takes quantum computing very seriously and gets out its checkbook

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected three companies for funding under its Underexplored Systems for Utility-Scale Quantum Computing (US2QC) program.

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February 4th 2023 | 521 readers

DARPA takes quantum computing very seriously and gets out its checkbook
The companies selected are Atom Computing, Microsoft, and PsiQuantum. Atom Computing has a 100-qubit quantum computer called Phoenix based on strontium neutral atom spin qubits and is expected to announce a second-generation machine soon. Microsoft's quantum platform is based on highly theoretical topological qubits and Majorana fermions, and has no working prototype yet. PsiQuantum is developing a single photon-based quantum computer with a million-qubit processor, using Global Foundries for fabrication of its CMOS silicon processor. The US2QC program's aim is to explore new ways of scaling qubit count, creating additional entanglement connectivity for faster performance, and developing a broader set of quantum error correction algorithms for fault tolerance. DARPA wants to determine if relatively new quantum technologies such as neutral atom, topological, and photonics can be used to develop a fault-tolerant quantum computer within ten years. The funding amount wasn't specified, but it's expected to be significant given the program's five-year span and DARPA's $4.1 billion budget. The goal of US2QC is to maintain the United States' global lead in quantum computing and avoid strategic surprises. The selected companies benefit from the funding and access to experts from the Defense Department, academia, and national labs. DARPA was formed in 1958 with the goal of preventing technological surprises from adversaries and invests in high-risk, high-reward research projects with the potential to revolutionize the military and civilian industries.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected Microsoft's Azure Quantum team to receive funding for the development of a topological quantum computer. Microsoft is one of three companies participating in the five-year program "Underexplored Systems for Utility-Scale Quantum Computing" (US2QC), which aims to reduce the danger of "strategic surprise" from "underexplored quantum computing systems." The US2QC program will provide additional funding to each of the participating companies, including Atom Computing and PsiQuantum, in exchange for rigorous government verification and validation of the proposed solutions. In the initial phase of the program, each company will present its design concept for a utility-scale quantum computer, which will then be evaluated by a DARPA-led test and validation team.

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