The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology and Subcommittee on Energy today held a joint hearing, "American Leadership in Quantum Technology," featuring testimony from experts including Dr. Christopher Monroe, professor of physics at the University of Maryland and founder and chief scientist at IonQ, Inc., who testified on behalf of the National Photonics Initiative (NPI) – an alliance of top scientific societies uniting industry and academia to raise awareness of photonics.
Dr. Monroe's testimony addressed the need for a National Quantum Initiative to create the infrastructure – both physical and human capital – needed to move the United States into a leadership position in quantum information technology, a field that will create vast opportunities for job creation, economic growth and betterment of society across areas as diverse as health outcomes and information security. Currently, countries including China, Australia and Canada, as well as the European Union, are heavily investing in major initiatives to advance quantum information science while efforts in the US remain decentralized.
"US leadership in quantum technology will be critical to our national security, and will open new doors for private industry and academia while ensuring America's role as a global technology leader in the 21st century," said Monroe. "I appreciate the attention that the House Science Committee is giving to quantum information science, and I thank the Subcommittees on Research and Technology and Energy for allowing me the opportunity to testify today in support of a National Quantum Initiative."
In a white paper published earlier this year titled, A Call for a National Quantum Initiative, the NPI detailed how US investment in a National Quantum Initiative will accelerate the development of commercially available quantum-based technologies to facilitate growth in the US economy and keep pace with accelerating international competition. The initiative would seek to:
- Invest $500 million of new public funding over five years in four "Quantum Innovation Labs." These will be proving grounds and testbeds for quantum technologies, and will follow the proven model of academia, government and industrial scientists and engineers working collaboratively on shared objectives.
- Define and develop standards for quantum technology elements (e.g. sensors, photonic communication links, quantum memories) and their software interfaces to ensure that quantum technologies can be portable or accessible by authorized users from the cloud.
- Guarantee US leadership in the development and deployment of a new generation of quantum technology which will usher in the next generation of enhanced measurement, communication and data processing.
- Interface with counterparts in the US defense and intelligence communities to ensure the US military and other data-gathering and analysis agencies have access to the most advanced information technologies.
- Provide new opportunities in cybersecurity and communication networks whose security relies on fundamental laws of physics.
"The explosion of worldwide activity in quantum is evidence of the importance the global community is placing on this technology. It is critical for the United States to pay attention to this activity and to invest in this technology," said NPI Steering Committee Chairman Ed White. "The NPI looks forward to continuing to work with Committee, Congress and the administration to guarantee American leadership in this rapidly growing field."
Photonics-enabled quantum technologies—based on fundamental particles of nature such as individual atoms and photons—hold great promise to become the computers, networks and sensors of tomorrow. Quantum information science, based on exploiting subtle aspects of quantum physics, can provide greater communication security and enhance navigation, imaging and other sensing technologies in ways that are impossible using binary-based computer systems.