The plan says that Quantum Information Science builds on uniquely quantum phenomena such as superposition, entanglement, and squeezing to obtain and process information in ways that cannot be achieved based on classical behaviour. It is thus a foundational science. Its currently envisioned applications include sensing and metrology, communications, simulation, and high-performance computing, and it has the potential to enable significant scientific advances in physics, chemistry, biology, and materials science, among other domains.
The QIS report provides a brief description of the field, summarizes developments and potential impacts in various fields of technology and realms of basic research, identifies impediments to progress and potential approaches to addressing them, surveys U.S. Federal investments, and discusses the Federal path forward in the context of international and private-sector activity.
While recent progress in QIS has been substantial, a number of challenges remain. These challenges include stability and continuity of funding, institutional and disciplinary boundaries, education and workforce training needs, knowledge transfer and interfaces with industry, and materials and fabrication. U.S. federal activity includes long-standing and continuing programs at some agencies as well as newer efforts that are in the process of being implemented or are proposed in the report.
Rapid technical advances and growing international interest and investments in quantum-enabled science and technology have marked the past few years. The interdisciplinary nature of the field, the reliance on complex, sophisticated, and precise physical arrangements in order to observe and utilize quantum behaviour, and the potential for substantial economic consequences merit special attention. A coherent, all-of-government approach in the U.S. will facilitate advancement of QIS, the report says. This approach includes stable and sustained core programmes, focused strategic investments in targets of opportunity, and continued close monitoring and evaluation of the field and of Federal and non-Federal activity. This report recommends that Quantum Information Science be considered a priority for Federal coordination and investment, with particular attention to finding and implementing mechanisms to address identified impediments to the field.
QIS has strong connections with many other fields, including strong connections to other related science and technology initiatives, including the National Nanotechnology Initiative and the Materials Genome Initiative. QIS will, according to the report, also play a key role in the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) that aims to sustain U.S. leadership in high performance computing (HPC). A key NSCI strategic objective is to establish, over the next 15 years, a viable path forward for future HPC systems. The NSCI pursues this objective through two concurrent paths: technologies that accelerate traditional digital computing after the limits of current semiconductor CMOS technologies are reached; and new computing paradigms to address problems beyond the scope of traditional HPC. Promising options on both paths depend heavily on QIS. Understanding and controlling quantum effects will be critical to further miniaturization of charge-based complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) devices, and to refining alternatives for digital computing such as spin-based CMOS or superconducting computing. Basic and applied QIS Research and Development is also needed to clarify the range of computational problems a potential quantum computer could address, and to resolve the many challenges to fielding a practical quantum computer.
QIS is an increasingly international field. In the last two years, several countries have announced new programmes with significant QIS components that will supplement existing Research and Development efforts. For example, the United Kingdom committed in 2014 to a five-year quantum technologies programme that includes four new hubs in specific technological areas and announced in 2016 a related effort to train a skilled quantum technology workforce. In 2015, the Netherlands embarked upon a ten-year effort to accelerate the development of quantum computing at the Delft University of Technology's Quantum Technology Institute.
In addition, the European Commission has announced plans to launch a new ten-year flagship project in quantum technologies, beginning in 2018. With the increase in activity abroad, international collaboration is becoming more common and researchers are crossing borders to pursue the most exciting scientific questions.
The report notes that the level of private sector investment in QIS is also increasing. Several large U.S. companies, as well as a number of startups, have new investments in QIS projects that include the development of quantum computers and the software required to use them. Some of these companies are providing support to academic research groups both in the United States and abroad. At the same time, a growing number of small companies are focused on bringing specific quantum devices, such as the navigation sensors described above, to market. Building and strengthening connections between the QIS research community and U.S. industry will be increasingly important as QIS applications mature and competition ramps up in the worldwide marketplace.
The report proposes a coherent, all-of-government approach to QIS that includes:
1. Stable and sustained core programs that can be enhanced as new opportunities appear and restructured as impediments evolve;
2. Strategic investment in targeted, time-limited programs to achieve concrete, measurable objectives;
3. Continued close monitoring of the field to evaluate the outcome of Federal QIS investments and quickly adapt programmes to take advantage of technical breakthroughs as they are made.
What will be the level of investment in Quantum technologies, and whether that will be at the billion euro level as are the European plans, is not yet clear.
The document is available at Advancing Quantum Information Science - National Challenges And Opportunities