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New research collaboration between U.S. National Laboratories, Microsoft, and universities will accelerate the path to a commercial-scale quantum computer

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today the creation of several multidisciplinary Quantum Information Science Research Centers in support of the National Quantum Initiative.

Today marks one of the U.S. government’s largest investments in this field. It is also a noteworthy moment for Microsoft, which is providing scientific leadership, in addition to expertise in workforce development and technology transfer.

Microsoft is one of the five core founding members of one of the newly-formed centers, the Quantum Science Center (QSC), along with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and Purdue University. In addition to the Quantum Science Center, Microsoft is also a partner in the Q-NEXT center, led by Argonne National Laboratory and joined by Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. And finally, Microsoft is enrolled in the External Advisory Board of the Quantum Science Accelerator Center, led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and joined by Sandia National Laboratory.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), a longstanding DOE Lab collaborator with Microsoft and co-founding member of Northwest Quantum Nexus, will also participate in QSC and Q-NEXT. In both these Centers, Microsoft and PNNL will continue their work on quantum chemistry, algorithms, and tools, leveraging earlier innovations involving NWChem and the QDK.

As has been our impact and experience with other collaborations involving U.S. government entities, universities, and Microsoft, the newly-created QIS Research centers will bring together the best of the public and private sector together to solve the scientific problems that lie on the path to a commercial-scale quantum computer.

While quantum computing will someday have a profound impact, today’s quantum computing systems are still nascent technologies. To scale these systems, we must overcome a number of scientific challenges.

Microsoft has been tackling these challenges head-on through our work towards developing topological qubits, classical information processing devices for quantum control, new quantum algorithms, and simulations. Our team has been collaborating with universities globally since its inception, even opening labs on the campuses of UC Santa Barbara, Purdue University, the University of Sydney, Copenhagen University, and the Technical University of Delft. With today’s announcement, the efforts and expertise of this global network will be taken to the next level across a number of areas.

We believe that we will need to explore new materials combinations in order to realize significant performance improvements in topological qubits, and DOE National Labs have vast experience with the exploration of materials. They also have unique tools, such as a spallation neutron source and synchrotrons for probing the properties of these materials in order to screen them for use in quantum devices. Together, Microsoft and its partners in the DOE’s labs can design the probes of the future that are tailored for topological quantum materials.

At the other end of the quantum computing stack, the Centers can bolster our efforts to benchmark quantum algorithms and protocols for qubit validation and verification. Oak Ridge’s Leadership Computing Facility features a number of near-term quantum computing testbeds, while our Azure Quantum service is backed by Microsoft’s cloud computing expertise and infrastructure, as well as decades of research in quantum algorithms and languages such as our high-level quantum programming language Q#, which can be targeted at near-term quantum computing testbeds and also at the quantum computers of the future.

Today’s announcement connects extensive public-private expertise, resources, and funding to tackle the tough problems ahead and accelerate progress.