Yale Engineering Receives $1.2 Million W.M. Keck Foundation Grant for Quantum Information Center
A four-year, $1.2 million award from the W.M. Keck Foundation of Los Angeles will establish the grant-funded W.M. Keck Foundation Center for Quantum Information Physics at Yale.
Exploring the science and technology necessary to build a quantum computer is an important goal of the new center to be established at Yale’s Faculty of Engineering and Department of Physics. President Richard C. Levin applauded the W.M. Keck Foundation for this award and said, “This project will make significant contributions to fundamental science and the development of revolutionary technologies.”
The project involves six Yale principal investigators, including Michel Devoret, Daniel Prober and Robert Schoelkopf in condensed matter experiment, Steven Girvin and A. Douglas Stone in condensed matter theory, and David DeMille in atomic and molecular physics. Devoret came to Yale this year to spearhead the University’s efforts in this area from the Condensed Matter Physics Section of the French CEA (Atomic Energy Research Center), Saclay, where he was director of research. Girvin, a leading theorist in the field of quantum coherence, came to Yale last year from Indiana University.
“We are delighted that the W.M. Keck Foundation has chosen to fund this groundbreaking research at Yale engineering,” said Yale’s Dean of Engineering Paul Fleury. “The W.M. Keck Foundation’s support will play a crucial role, particularly in funding a field-emission scanning electron microscope system that will complete the new Yale nanofabrication facility and permit the Yale group for the first time to make all its devices in-house.” The funding of the microscope and other equipment is an especially valuable aspect of the large grant.
A major goal of the project is to determine if a quantum computer can be built using “atom-like” circuits. A quantum computer differs from a classical computer in that its components behave according to the laws of quantum mechanics rather than those of classical physics. The Center will develop both the theoretical and the practical aspects of quantum computing. The quest to build a quantum computer is based on the theory that such a computer would be far superior to conventional computers in terms of memory and security. The results of past studies have shown that a quantum computer would be a calculating device more powerful in principle than any conventional computer that could ever be built.
“Although we still do not yet understand the range of problems for which a quantum computer is specially suited, there is every reason to believe that such a machine would have a revolutionary impact on information technology,” said Devoret, professor of physics and applied physics at Yale.
“The question we will address in this project is whether or not quantum information can be stored and processed in solid-state and molecular systems,” said Robert Schoelkopf, a principal investigator and assistant professor of applied physics at Yale. “Building on recent breakthroughs demonstrated by the Yale nanostructure physics group, we will use superconducting nanocircuits to perform several key experiments.”
The team will also experimentally and theoretically address questions relating to noise in quantum systems and the effect of the measurement process. Another project involves developing a new molecular system for storing and processing quantum information, which would involve the first demonstration of ultra-cold arrays of polar molecules. The total project budget, including the W.M. Keck Foundation grant is more than $4.8 million.
In addition to these specific goals, the researchers anticipate other significant contributions to condensed matter physics and atomic and molecular physics, which are areas that are particularly strong at Yale.