Energy puts $30M in grants for quantum computing


NOTE: This article first appeared on FCW.com. 

On the heels of announcing substantial funding for national laboratories’ exascale computing in April, Energy Department Secretary Rick Perry said his agency has made $30 million available for national labs’ quantum computing research.

DOE, Perry said May 2, opened a $30 million pool of research funding for the five Nanoscale Science Research Centers (NSRCs) housed at the agency’s national laboratories across the country, to develop the technology that is expected to power next-generation computing capabilities.

The Energy Department, he said, will make the money available for Quantum Information Science research over the next three years.

The funding comes a month after the agency said it would commit hundreds of millions of dollars to develop two more exascale computers at its national laboratories by 2023.

Both exascale computers and quantum computing technologies are seen as crucial to keep up with advances being made by other countries, particularly China. In a May 4 op-ed posted on CNN's web site, Perry said the U.S. has “slipped in the rankings of the world's fastest machines, falling behind systems from China, Switzerland and Japan.” He added that supercomputing is crucial not only to the country’s economic health, but also national security.

QIS, according to the May 2 DOE statement, is a wide area of research that will be the foundation not only for computing and information processing, but also a wider range of technologies, such as materials science. Perry noted in his CNN op-ed that exascale computing also has great potential in precision medicine.

The initial QIS funding, DOE said, will enable the NSRCs to “take their first steps into the new quantum era.”

NSRCs are located at the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory, the Center for Functional Nanomaterials at Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies, which is jointly managed by Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories.

Awards for each NSRC could range from $500,000 to $2 million, according to the QIS program announcement. The deadline for final proposals is June 18.

The Energy Department said its Office of Science plans to open up additional QIS research funding solicitations later in fiscal 2018 for other research institutions.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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