Microsoft, PNNL and UW leap into White House’s $1B initiative for AI and quantum research

Krysta Svore, who leads the Microsoft Quantum – Redmond group at Microsoft Research, explains how quantum computing hardware works at a Seattle science meeting in February. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle) Microsoft, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Washington are playing supporting roles in the White House’s $1 billion effort to advance research into artificial intelligence and quantum information science .
Those three organizations have already been working together through the Northwest Quantum Nexus to develop the infrastructure for quantum computers, which promise to open up new possibilities in fields ranging from chemistry to systems optimization and financial modeling.
The initiatives announced today are likely to accelerate progress toward the development of commercial-scale quantum computers, Chetan Nayak, Microsoft’s general manager for quantum hardware, said in a blog posting .
“Today marks one of the U.S. government’s largest investments in the field,” he said. “It is also a noteworthy moment for Microsoft, which is providing scientific leadership in addition to expertise in workforce development and technology transfer.”
Over the next five years, the U.S. Department of Energy will set aside up to $625 million to support five quantum computing research centers led by teams at the Argonne, Brookhaven, Fermi, Oak Ridge and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories. Contributions from the private sector and academia will add up to another $300 million.
Microsoft, PNNL and UW are among the partners in the Quantum Science Center , which is headed up by Oak Ridge and aims to address the tough scientific challenges surrounding quantum processing. In contrast to the sharply defined one-or-zero world of classical computing, quantum computers work with quantum bits, or qubits, which can reflect multiple values simultaneously.

Microsoft and PNNL are also part of the public-private consortium known as Q-NEXT , which is led by Argonne National Laboratory. Next Generation Quantum Science and Engineering will focus on building the infrastructure for quantum computing technology. (Boeing is also a Q-NEXT partner.)
Researchers from PNNL and UW are also partnering in the Co-design Center for Quantum Advantage , or C 2 QA, with Brookhaven National Laboratory taking the leading role. C 2 QA will focus on taking advantage of quantum phenomena for high-energy and nuclear physics, chemistry, materials science and other fields.
Microsoft is also represented on the external advisory board for the Quantum Science Accelerator , which is led by the Berkeley Lab in partnership with Sandia National Laboratory. The fifth DOE-funded center is the Superconducting Quantum Materials and Systems Center , led by Fermilab.
“Realizing the promise of quantum computing is beyond the capacity of any single institution, public or private,” PNNL...