The U.S. Department of Energy has allocated $3 million in annual funding to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) for quantum computing research expected to "solve some of science's hardest problems," according to a Berkeley Lab press release.
The money will be split between a hardware and a software team, with the former expected to have the funding renewed for five years and the latter for three. However, renewal is contingent upon the DOE's future budget, according to Jonathan Carter, Berkeley Lab's computing sciences area deputy.
Quantum computers are worlds ahead of the kind you probably use daily. Instead of encoding information in bits representing specific states, quantum computers encode information in qubits, which can represent multiple states simultaneously. As Carter explained to The Daily Californian, if traditional bit encoding is analogous to walking 50 paces and traversing 90 ordinary feet, qubit encoding is like taking a three-foot step, then a nine-foot step, then a 27-foot step, and so on.
This $3 million in annual funding from the DOE will go a long way toward making this geometric analogy a quantum computing reality. Berkeley Lab's hardware team will use their half to focus on constructing a physical quantum computer. Meanwhile, the software team will use their $1.5 million annually to construct algorithms and investigate optimal methods of programming a quantum computer.
“I am confident that quantum computing will become a reality,” Head of Computational Chemistry Bert de Jong told The Daily Californian, and if the DOE funding is renewed as expected, he has every right to be.
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