College of Engineering faculty are part of new quantum institute

// Electrical & Computer Engineering, Engineering Physics, Materials Science & Engineering

Image of quantum science research

National Institute of Standards and Technology physicists used this apparatus to coax two electrically charged atoms into swapping the smallest measurable units of energy back and forth, a technique that may simplify information processing in a quantum computer. Photo: Y. Colombe/NIST.

In July 2020, the National Science Foundation named the University of Wisconsin-Madison a partner in a new 5-year, $25 million quantum science collaboration called the Quantum Leap Challenge Institute for Hybrid Quantum Architectures and Networks (HQAN).

Several College of Engineering faculty will participate in the institute including Associate Professor, Dugald C. Jackson Faculty Scholar and Vilas Associate Zongfu Yu and Associate Professor and Dugald C. Jackson Faculty Scholar Mikhail Kats from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Assistant Professor Jennifer Choy from the Department of Engineering Physics and Assistant Professor Jason Kawasaki from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Besides the College of Engineering, HQAN also includes faculty from the departments of physics and chemistry and groups in the new Wisconsin Quantum Institute. Other primary partner institutions in HQAN are the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The institute also has relationships with Fermilab, MIT Lincoln Labs, Air Force Research labs and corporate partners.

The goal of HQAN, funded by the National Quantum Initiative Act, is to accelerate the development of quantum computing, which uses the principles of quantum physics to produce processors that will provide huge leaps in computing speed and power. In particular, the collaboration will investigate ways to connect different types of quantum processing and storage devices in a hybrid network.

Quantum computing has potential applications across many fields including logistics, medicine, and communications. The hope is that the institute will jumpstart collaborations between departments at UW-Madison as well as between participating universities to move the technology forward.

Zongfu Yu, whose lab investigates computational and theoretical design of quantum devices, says the College of Engineering will play a big role in the institute and HQAN is a major asset for the university. “This will be a technology that involves a significant engineering part,” he says. “Through this project, our students will work with many experimental groups. It’s a good opportunity.”

Author: Jason Daley