Amazon Joins Race for Quantum Computer with New Caltech Center
(WashingtonPost) Amazon is officially entering the race to develop a quantum computer, and will base its quantum team at a new center on the campus of Caltech in Pasadena, Calif., which officially opens this week. Caltech described it as the first “corporate-partnership building” on the university’s campus, showing “Caltech’s interests in bringing fundamental science to the marketplace.”
“By the end of this decade you might start to see machines capable of being able to tackle interesting problems … that you couldn’t tackle with existing technologies,” said Oskar Painter, who took a leave of absence from his job as a Caltech physics professor two years ago to join Amazon and help establish the new center.
Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud-computing division, already offers customers access to early-stage quantum computers developed by other companies, including IonQ. Now it’s trying to develop its own.
Amazon rented land from Caltech to build the research center, which the company owns and operates. Painter and another Caltech professor, Fernando Brandao, who also took a leave of absence to join Amazon, are running the research there.
“This is really one of the of the best places on Earth for quantum computing,” Brandao said.
He said Caltech would also benefit because academics need the deep pockets of industry to scale up quantum machines. “It’s not cheap to do that, it’s not easy to do that,” he said. “It’s not something that people can do just at universities. So we need industry there.”
Both parties declined to say how much Amazon is paying in rent. Amazon is providing financial support for quantum and nanoscience research at Caltech through “student and postdoctoral fellowships, sponsored research agreements, and infrastructure funds for Caltech’s nanoscience facility,” the university said. Amazon and Caltech declined to quantify that funding.