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Congressional hearing highlights need for quantum technology initiative

November 7, 2017

On October 24, 2017, two Fellows of the Joint Quantum Institute and the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science were among those that testified during a joint congressional committee hearing on the topic of American Leadership in Quantum Technology.

Carl Williams and Christopher Monroe attended as expert panelists, reading prepared statements and answering questions from committee members. Williams, who is also the deputy director of the Physical Measurement Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), provided testimony about quantum research at NIST. Monroe—a Distinguished University Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland (UMD) and a co-founder and chief scientist at UMD-based startup IonQ, Inc—advocated for a National Quantum Initiative in his testimony. Both shared their perspectives on the path toward industry’s adoption of this emerging new technology.

The hearing focused on the status of quantum research in the US. Two panels with a total of six experts from government, industry, academia, and national laboratories testified. The witnesses emphasized that quantum information science will play a critical role in future advanced computing and secure communications. They also noted potential applications related to chemistry, medicine, artificial intelligence, and even space exploration.

In answering questions about the maturity of quantum information research, participants cited both Monroe’s and IBM’s small-scale quantum devices. According to panelists, commercialization of quantum technology is an imminent reality, rather than a futuristic goal. Participants discussed the global impact that industrial quantum science will have, noting that governments worldwide are investing in large-scale quantum research. China, Australia and Europe, in particular, are beginning to pour massive resources into funding quantum research.

Quantum at Maryland

UMD’s flagship College Park campus is home to a thriving quantum enterprise that is actively producing a competitive workforce, delivering innovative research, and attracting a network of strategic partners. With more than 175 scientists on-site and countless collaborations within a vast global research network, quantum programs at Maryland are leading the charge toward a quantum future. 

  • The Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), founded in 2006, is a physics research partnership with NIST and the Laboratory for Physical Sciences dedicated to intensely studying quantum science.
  • A quantum-focused NSF Physics Frontier Center was first awarded to UMD in 2008 and renewed in 2014. This is a prestigious designation that promotes collaborative exploration of challenging but highly promising research areas.
  • The Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science (QuICS), launched in 2014, is a UMD-NIST initiative that expands research at the interface of quantum computer science and quantum physics. This innovative center seeks to understand and enable the full promise of quantum computation.
  • UMD enjoys vital relationships with industrial and government-laboratory efforts in quantum computing, such as Microsoft, Northrop-Grumman, Sandia National Laboratories, the Army Research Laboratory, Booz-Allen-Hamilton, and the startup IonQ, Inc. Many UMD graduates have taken positions at these places.