The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is collaborating with commercial partners to advance the development of quantum computing. Under its Underexplored Systems for Utility-Scale Quantum Computing (US2QC) program, three companies were selected to explore novel approaches to viable, fault-tolerant quantum computers.
Atom Computing, Microsoft, and PsiQuantum were chosen for their unique approaches to quantum computing. Atom Computing uses large arrays of optically-trapped atoms to build highly scalable quantum computers. Microsoft is developing an industrial-scale quantum system based on a topological qubit architecture. PsiQuantum is utilizing silicon-based photonics to create an error-corrected quantum computer.
In the first phase of the US2QC program, the selected companies will present their design concepts for a utility-scale quantum computer. The concepts will then be evaluated by a DARPA-led team of experts, with a focus on the components and sub-systems necessary to construct and operate the computer as intended.
Joe Altepeter, US2QC program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office, explains the goal of the program: “The goal of US2QC is to reduce the danger of strategic surprise from underexplored quantum computing systems…We offered to collaborate by funding additional experts to join their team and provide rigorous government verification and validation of their proposed solutions to determine its viability. The ultimate outcome of the program is a win-win — for U.S. commercial leadership in this strategically important technology area and for national security to avoid being surprised.”
The US2QC program is expected to last five years, with four phases to be completed. The collaboration between DARPA and the commercial partners is aimed at finding the fastest way to achieve utility-scale operation in quantum computing, which would greatly benefit both commercial and national security interests.