University Launches Center for Quantum Science Research

The project is a collaboration between the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

By Lee Harris, Editor-in-Chief

The Institute for Molecular Engineering announced last month the launch of the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE), a center for research and development in quantum science and engineering.

The project is a collaboration between the University of Chicago, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. The CQE website describes it as “an intellectual hub and partnership for advancing academic and industrial efforts in the science and engineering of quantum information.”

Government scientists and University academics will collaborate on research initiatives as well as potential startup ventures, and will be supported by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. 

According to the University’s June 20 press release, the Polsky Center backing and potential for venture capital funding will “enable the transition from laboratory discoveries to societal applications through industrial collaborations and startup initiatives.”

The CQE website lists nine major research areas, including condensed matter physics, quantum optics, and nanomechanics. The website emphasizes interdisciplinary collaboration. 

Twenty-seven University faculty members will each head a quantum science research group with one or several specializations, and groups will comprise scientists drawn from Argonne and Fermi labs, graduate researchers, and undergraduate students.

David Awschalom, the University’s Liew Family Professor in Molecular Engineering and a senior scientist at Argonne, will serve as director. Awschalom originally suggested the project when he joined the University faculty in 2013, and the CQE is the product of his vision for a collaborative hub for quantum research.

“Transformative technologies are likely to emerge with far-reaching applications, ranging from ultra-sensitive sensors for biomedical imaging to secure communication networks to new paradigms for computation. In addition, they are making us re-think the meaning of information itself,” Awschalom said in an interview with UChicago News.

Awschalom did not respond to The Maroon’s request for comment.