The National Science Foundation recently awarded the University of California at Berkeley a multi-year $25 million grant to lead a quantum computing science center, the university announced.
UC Berkeley will use the $25 million grant over five years to lead one of three Quantum Challenge Institutes funded by the National Science Foundation. Seven other universities across the country are also collaborating with UC Berkeley on the project, according to the university.
The NSF’s $75 million investment is part of the federal government’s National Quantum Initiative Act, an effort to advance quantum science and technology in the U.S. The UC Berkeley-led facility will focus on making quantum computers as common as mobile phones.
“There is a sense that we are on the precipice of a really big move toward quantum computing,” said UC Berkeley physics professor and Quantum Challenge Institute Director Dan Stamper-Kurn.
“We think that the development of the quantum computer will be a real scientific revolution, the defining challenge of the moment, especially if you think about the fact that the computer plays a central role in just about everything society does,” he said.
Quantum computing is already theorized to be the best way to complete certain tasks like factoring large numbers and encrypting or decrypting data because it is much faster than standard digital computing.
According to the NSF, the three institutes will help lay a foundation of quantum programming and algorithms that will allow researchers and scientists to hit the ground running when quantum computing hardware is available on a large scale.
“Quantum information science has the potential to change the world,” NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said. “But to realize that potential, we must first answer some fundamental research questions. … Within five years, we are confident these institutes can make tangible advances to help carry us into a true quantum revolution.”
The other two institutes will be located at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne. They will focus on quantum sensors and quantum information science, respectively.