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Time for Congressional Action as Quantum Revolution Looms

Quantum computing (Credits: The Hill)

In early April, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) made history by becoming the first university in the world to operate a quantum computer. This milestone was shortly followed by Microsoft and Quantinuum’s announcement of demonstrating the most reliable logical qubits on record.

RPI and IBM, the company behind the university’s quantum computer, received funding through the CHIPS and Science Act. However, despite this progress, Congress has hesitated to embrace quantum technology’s potential fully.

In November, the House Science Committee unanimously voted to reauthorize the 2018 National Quantum Initiative, but the bill has been stuck in Congress ever since.

If passed, it would appropriate $3.6 billion for quantum research, including funds for new institutes and foundries. This funding is crucial for supporting basic research, securing quantum supply chains, and promoting the commercialization of quantum applications.

Quantum Computing (Credits:

Quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize the way we process information, using the principles of quantum mechanics to represent and transmit data. This technology could massively speed up calculations beyond the impressive growth underlies the recent AI revolution.

However, it also poses serious national security risks, as future quantum computers may be able to break most existing encryption protocols, allowing foreign actors to steal classified and personal information.

The United States is not alone in its pursuit of quantum technology. China has invested an estimated $15 billion in its National Quantum Initiative, and European countries have invested over $8 billion in quantum initiatives over the past five years. The United States must act quickly to maintain its edge in this field.

One of the biggest challenges facing quantum computing is finding a reliable and efficient way to correct errors caused by quantum noise. Researchers are exploring various approaches, including superconducting qubits, neutral atoms, trapped ions, and quantum dots. Each of these pathways has its strengths and weaknesses, and it’s unclear which will lead the revolution.

To stay ahead, the United States and its allies need to invest in cutting-edge research and protect quantum supply chains. This is a difficult task, as various quantum technologies require many different supply chains and raw materials. The National Quantum Initiative Reauthorization Act would help scale quantum production through its support for specialized quantum foundries nationwide.

Unraveling the Quantum Revolution (Credits: Symmetry Magazine)

The government should support research and the commercial application of quantum technologies in addition to supporting research and securing supply chains.

Quantum sensing, in particular, has major near-term use cases in navigation and medical research. Quantum sensors can detect even the minutest perturbations, making them ideal for monitoring heart function, detecting earthquakes, and mineral exploration.

The National Quantum Initiative Reauthorization Act should be part of an integrated strategy that prioritizes quantum technologies on the national security and prosperity agenda.

The U.S. government must consider both economic and military uses, creating and capturing value simultaneously. Bypassing the Reauthorization Act, the Senate can address the biggest bottlenecks for quantum technologies and ensure that the United States remains a leader in this field.

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