The Department of Energy has announced $218 million in funding for work in quantum information science. Georgetown is the lead for a project in the Basic Energy Sciences directorate with North Carolina State University. Prof. Freericks and his NC State colleague Prof. Lex Kemper, are working on developing algorithms to use quantum computers to solve some of the most difficult and challenging problems in quantum mechanics of interest to solid state physicists with quantum computers that are available now and in the near future. The $1.25 million grant will fund one graduate student and one postdoctoral fellow at each site over its three year duration. The work will focus on using quantum computers to describe systems that are driven and damped (similar to shock absorbers in cars) which are believed to evolve to new steady states at long times that may have quantum properties that are not seen in equilibrium. We also will examine the effect of frustration on magnets and relate the high degeneracy of the system (many quantum states within a very narrow energy window) to the quantum entanglement of these states (this is the property that makes them truly quantum—-what happens to one particle effects all of the others in a complex quantum web). We are partnered with industry including IBM, IONQ, and Intel to run these different algorithms on quantum computers.
The second grant is from the Advanced Scientific Computing Research division which has funded a grant homed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This $8 million, 4 year-long grant will fund the development of software for running on quantum computers. Freericks is one of the domain scientists on this work, using and testing the software stack for solving complex scientific problems. Georgetown will receive $500,000 which will support one graduate student over the 4 years of the grant. The work is focused on examining how one initializes a quantum computer to examine quantum problems at a fixed temperature. While we may take for granted that the real world often can be described as a system in equilibrium at a fixed temperature, it is a well-known difficult problem to set up quantum computers at a fixed temperature. Freericks will examine approximate ways to do this, which could lead to much faster quantum algorithms, if his work is successful.
The DOE announcement is available here: https://www.energy.gov/articles/department-energy-announces-218-million-quantum-information-science