Quantum optics lab installation, featuring a reflective laser

ASU-led Quantum Collaborative fuels quantum discovery

Initiative funds original, groundbreaking research to accelerate progress

In a world where technology is advancing rapidly, researchers are exploring innovative paths to overcome societal challenges, from mitigating cyber threats to improving medical outcomes. One such path involves quantum information science and technology (QIST), a field of science that combines principles of physics, math, computer science and engineering. 

QIST harnesses the behavior of subatomic particles – specifically a phenomenon called superposition, where two particles can exist in multiple states simultaneously – to develop ultra-fast, advanced technology with unprecedented capabilities. Quantum computers, for instance, have the potential to perform calculations at speeds far greater than classical computers, unlocking new possibilities for solving complex problems. 

Researchers across the country are exploring new ways to leverage these principles, which could lead to revolutionary breakthroughs in fields such as computing, networking, healthcare, navigation and more. 

Seeding our quantum futures

The Quantum Collaborative, led by Arizona State University, is a driving force in advancing this research. Over the past year, the Quantum Collaborative has deployed over $500k in seed funding to support projects conducted by top university faculty and industry leaders to accelerate the development of quantum technologies. 

“It takes strategic collaboration across sectors to make the quantum leaps we aim to,” shares ASU’s Chief Research Information Officer and Quantum Collaborative leader, Sean Dudley. “The funded projects represent a promising spectrum of institutions and pressing quantum focus areas, including quantum sensing, quantum computing and quantum policy. We look forward to sharing updates along the way.”

Most, if not all, of the projects emerged from the inaugural Quantum Collaborative Summit last December – an event that brought together QIST researchers from across the country to network and ideate. By the end of the event, attendees had submitted over 30 proposals for funding. To date, thirteen have been approved and funded. 

Working across institutions, the projects involve collaborators from ASU, University of Arizona, University of Minnesota and Purdue University, along with industry leaders such as Dell Technologies and Quantinuum. By crossing organizational boundaries, the projects seek to drive innovation from multiple perspectives and propel the next wave of interdisciplinary problem-solving.

Five key areas guiding research

Research at the scale of quantum physics has the unique potential to reshape our approaches to problem-solving in each area described above. To provide a more in-depth understanding of these impacts, the Quantum Collaborative plans to conduct in-depth interviews with funded researchers, uncovering challenges, motivations and further details of each project.

Funded projects span a diverse array of topics in quantum science and technology. These span the following research areas:

  1. Quantum sensing and metrology
  2. Quantum computing
  3. Quantum simulation
  4. Quantum policy, governance, standards, and societal dimensions
  5. Quantum networking, communications and cybersecurity

“We’re excited to continue strategic investments into these boundary-breaking projects,” says Dudley, co-founder of the Quantum Collaborative and Associate VP of ASU’s Knowledge Enterprise. “Each researcher is bringing the world closer to realizing the potential of this field.” 

As these projects unfold, the Quantum Collaborative remains open to institutions, labs and industry partners interested in formally joining and contributing their expertise. It will also be sharing interviews with the researchers and faculty on these projects in a series of articles in the Quantum Collaborative newsroom.

Funded quantum collaborative projects

1. Quantum sensing and metrology: 

Researchers are working to create extremely fine-tuned sensors by carefully controlling and examining quantum states. They’re ensuring these sensors are accurate while minimizing any disruptions from the outside environment. Impacts include collecting more precise data to improve medicine, navigation and materials science. 

Quantum Image Fusion Methods for Radar and Remote Sensing

Principal Investigator Andreas Spanias of Arizona State University is working with collaborators Glen Uehara and Leslie Miller to develop advanced techniques for analyzing radar and optical images effectively, aiming to enhance our understanding of various materials and environments.

Quantum Control for Nuclear Spins

Principal Investigator William Terrano of Arizona State University is exploring quantum methods to improve sensor performance, aiming for significant enhancements in sensitivity and precision.

Single Photon Detectors for Quantum Astronomy

Principal Investigator Philip Maskopf of Arizona State University is working with collaborators Tom Mozdzen, Rick Scott and Vishnu Reddy to develop detectors that capture single photons. Their goal is to enhance our understanding of stars’ sizes and binary star systems using advanced telescope technology.

2. Quantum computing: 

Quantum computing exploits the principles of quantum mechanics to increase computing power generating results which ultimately could benefit society broadly. Quantum computers, for instance, have the potential to perform calculations at speeds far beyond the capabilities of classical computers, unlocking new possibilities for solving complex problems in areas ranging from drug discovery to climate modeling. 

Speeding Up Photonic Quantum Computing

Principal Investigator Christian Arenz of Arizona State University is working with collaborator Saikat Guha at the University of Arizona to optimize photonic quantum computing systems. This manifestation may achieve faster and more efficient computational processes, with potential applications in various scientific and technological fields.

3. Quantum simulation:

This area of research involves simulating quantum systems to model and understand complex quantum interactions. Simulations are simpler, easier to control and use fewer resources than other methods, helping scientists gain insights more efficiently.

Approximating Riemannian Gradient Flows on quantum computers for solving ground state problems

Principal Investigator Christian Arenz of Arizona State University is developing quantum algorithms to simulate complex quantum systems more accurately and efficiently than current capabilities allow, with applications in chemistry and supply chain optimization. 

Accelerating Quantum Monte Carlo Simulations via Quantum Algorithms

Principal Investigator Houlong Zhuang of Arizona State University is exploring quantum algorithms to enhance the efficiency of Monte Carlo simulations, which are crucial for evaluating computational chemistry and physics output in materials discovery.

4. Quantum policy, governance, standards, and societal dimensions:

As research progresses, it’s increasingly vital to create rules, guidelines, and social considerations governing the use of quantum technologies. The goal is to ensure that quantum advancements are guided by informed policies, laws, and ethical frameworks to maximize their positive impact on society and the economy.

Lessons for Quantum Governance from Other Emerging Technologies

Alongside collaborator Kaniah Konkoly-Thege of Quantinuum, Principal Investigator Gary Marchant of Arizona State University is examining governance frameworks from other emerging technologies to inform the development of policies and regulations for quantum technology, addressing issues related to innovation, safety, and public trust.

5. Quantum networking, communications and cybersecurity

Quantum networking involves creating connections between quantum systems that can interact with each other, regardless of distance, using a phenomenon called entanglement. Entanglement refers to a group of particles that are so intertwined that actions performed on one can impact the others, even when they are very far apart. This is akin to twin siblings who always seem to know what the other is thinking, no matter how far apart they are. Quantum networking holds promise for improved communication, networking and computing capabilities, but it also poses significant cybersecurity risks. With a strong understanding of quantum cybersecurity, scientists can protect economic and national security interests and safeguard sensitive information against potential threats. 

Cascading Dynamics on Quantum Networks

Principal Investigator Ying-Cheng Lai of Arizona State University is working with collaborator Joseph Lukens to investigate the behavior of information flow in quantum networks. Their goal is to understand how information flows across quantum networks so they can develop strategies for controlling and mitigating vulnerabilities in these systems.