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A fabricated trap that researchers use to capture and control atomic ion qubits (quantum bits).

Tufts University is part of a seven-university team that received a $15 million NSF award to create the first practical quantum computer. Tufts ‘ associate professor of physics and astronomy in A&S, Peter Love, will lead the team developing applications to run on the new quantum system.

From codebreaking to aircraft design, complex problems in a wide range of fields exist that even today’s best computers cannot solve. To accelerate the development of a practical quantum computer that will one day answer currently unsolvable research questions, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $15 million over five years to the multi-institution Software-Tailored Architecture for Quantum co-design (STAQ) project.

“Quantum computers will change everything about the technology we use and how we use it, and we are still taking the initial steps toward realizing this goal,” said NSF Director France Córdova. “Developing the first practical quantum computer would be a major milestone. By bringing together experts who have outlined a path to a practical quantum computer and supporting its development, NSF is working to take the quantum revolution from theory to reality.”

The award is part of the Software-Tailored Architecture for Quantum co-design (STAQ) project, which aims to demonstrate a quantum advantage over traditional computers within five years of using ion trap technology. The project is part of a larger initiative, “The Quantum Leap: Leading the Next Quantum Revolution“, and is “One of NSF’s 10 Big Ideas”.

The initiative aims to accelerate innovative research and provide a path forward for science and engineering to help solve one of the most critical, competitive and challenging issues of our time. Researchers will design, construct and analyze new approaches to quantum computing and test algorithms at a scale beyond the reach of simulations run on classical computers. Quantum research is essential for preparing future scientists and engineers to implement the discoveries of the next quantum revolution into technologies that will benefit the nation.

STAQ emerged from an NSF Ideas Lab, one of a series of week-long, free-form exchanges among researchers from a wide range of fields that aim to generate creative, collaborative proposals to address a given research challenge. This particular NSF Ideas Lab focused on the Practical Fully-Connected Quantum Computer challenge. STAQ will involve physicists, computer scientists and engineers from Duke University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, University of California-Berkeley, University of Chicago, University of Maryland and University of New Mexico.

“The first truly effective quantum computer will not emerge from one researcher working in a single discipline,” said NSF Chief Operating Officer Fleming Crim. “Quantum computing requires experts from a range of fields, with individuals applying complementary insights to solve some of the most challenging problems in science and engineering. NSF’s STAQ project uniquely addresses that need, providing a cutting-edge approach that promises to dramatically advance U.S. leadership in quantum computing.”

Click Here to read more on the NSF website