The Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy has recently established the Center for Quantum Research and Technology (CQRT). The CQRT is based in the newly-constructed Lin Hall and will capitalize on the expertise of the current atomic, molecular, and optical (AMO) and condensed matter (CM) physics groups. The CQRT will enable OU to pursue large center grants and to fulfill the vision of the donors that made Lin Hall possible. The CQRT’s mission will be to make OU a world leader in quantum technology by excelling in basic research and pursuing applications enabled by its discoveries. It will train the future workforce for this emerging field, while establishing meaningful partnerships with industry.
The development of quantum mechanics in the 1920s started a technological revolution that led to many of today’s ubiquitous electronic technologies, including computer chips, lasers, and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). A second quantum revolution is currently being spurred by recent progress in exploiting superposition and entanglement, two fundamental aspects of quantum mechanics that are not utilized in today’s technologies, to further enhance device functionality. Prospective devices for quantum information processing, quantum simulation, secure communication, and high-precision sensing are being explored with a variety of physical systems. These systems range from photons, atoms, and spins (AMO systems) to mesoscopic superconducting, semiconducting, and nano-mechanical structures (CM systems). To take full advantage of quantum resources, a number of these systems must work together to harness their complementary properties. This is one of the many scientific challenges that the CQRT would address.
Over the next decade, quantum-based devices are anticipated to replace increasingly more of the current classical-based devices. For example, ultra-precise atomic clocks and quantum cryptographic systems with absolute security are being developed with first generation devices already commercially available. Start-up companies that focus on quantum technology are being created at an increasing rate. Even established tech companies such as Google, IBM, and Microsoft have prominent efforts in developing quantum computing, and many countries have begun making significant investments in this emerging field. Economists predict that the global quantum-technology industry will have annual revenues of $80 billion by 2030 and $1.3 trillion by 2040.
The U.S. has launched a National Quantum Initiative, a coordinated Federal program to accelerate research and development of quantum-based technologies for the economic and national security of the US. The initiative will fund several types of quantum technology. Among them, quantum computation is the holy grail and has attracted tremendous attention. However, quantum technology also encompasses quantum communication, quantum simulation, and quantum sensing, which are closer to practical applications. Developing these quantum technologies requires meeting fundamental challenges across a wide diversity of systems. The CQRT will focus in areas such as quantum simulation, quantum sensing, quantum materials enabled devices, among others.