NSF Awards $15 Million Grant to Make Quantum Computing “Practical”

New STAQ project will address some fundamental problems that are holding back the development of real-world quantum computers.

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded a $15 million grant for an effort to produce the first “practical” quantum computer. According to NSF director France Cordova, “Today’s quantum computers are mostly proofs of concept, demonstrating the feasibility of certain principles. While they have grown in complexity as researchers’ ability to control and construct quantum systems has improved, they have not yet solved a computational problem for which the answer is unknown.”

The Software-Tailored Architecture for Quantum project (STAQ) will begin developing the tools, technologies, and software needed to apply quantum computing to real-world problems. The project will focus on four primary goals:

  • Develop a quantum computer with a sufficiently large number of quantum bits (qubits) to solve a challenging calculation.
  • Ensure that every qubit interacts with all other qubits in the system, which is critical for solving fundamental problems in physics.
  • Integrate software, algorithms, devices, and systems engineering.
  • Involve equal input from experimentalists, theorists, engineers, and computer scientists.

STAQ emerged from the NSF Ideas Lab, a week-long brainstorming session for researchers from several scientific fields. The STAQ project will involve scientists from several institutions, including Duke University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, University of California Berkeley, University of Chicago, University of Maryland, and University of New Mexico. For more information on the STAQ project, see the press release at the NSF website.