Legislation commits $1.2 billion to quantum information science research over the next five years

The US Senate has passed the National Quantum Initiative Act by unanimous consent.

The bill commits $1.2 billion to quantum information science research through the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the Commerce Department over the next five years.

The legislation was unveiled in June as a way to coordinate the disparate research efforts of the nascent technology across the public, private and academic sectors.

The bill now only needs President Trump’s signature to become law. The Trump administration has been a keen quantum advocate, pushing forward the national quantum agenda by issuing a National Strategic Overview for Quantum Information Science (QIS).

Race for quantum dominance

The administration views the quantum sector as the next key technological differentiator; a view shared by China, whose $10 billion investment in quantum dwarfs the commitment proposed in the US bill. Russia is also pushing hard to improve its own quantum capabilities.

The US’s quantum strategy was introduced at a White House summit in September. At the summit, the Department of Energy announced it would pour $218 billion into 85 quantum research projects, with the National Science Foundation pledging $31 million to funding research projects.

In attendance were Google, IBM and Intel, who are all developing their own qubit systems. Google is working on its Bristlecone processor, Intel on Tangle Lake, its 49-Qubit processor, and IBM on the Q Network.

“US leadership in quantum information science is essential to national security and economic competitiveness,” Jim Clarke, director of Quantum Hardware division at Intel told Data Center Dynamics.

“Quantum computing has the potential to tackle problems conventional computers can’t handle, which is why nations around the world are racing to win the modern-day space race.

By exploiting the laws of physics, quantum computers will be able to create more effective drugs to fight diseases, streamline traffic control, better predict weather patterns and model climate change, and help develop artificial intelligence solutions to various societal problems.”

While quantum computing has the potential to transform all areas of IT, critics have warned the area is still largely theoretical, arguing it will be a long time before quantum hardware becomes commercially and logistically viable.