DOE Interview: Developing viable quantum tech hinges on hardware, workforce

By Sandra Helsel posted 08 Apr 2022

(NextGov) Alexandra Kelley, Staff Correspondent for NextGov recently interviewed Barbara Helland, the associate director at the Department of Energy’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research within the Office of Science about the way Helland’s office is working to advance quantum technologies.. IQT-News summarizes that discussion here.
The overarching message was that in addition to continued research and development, a basic foundation is needed to make quantum technologies mainstream. Citing quantum use cases related to artificial intelligence, data analytics, and even a partnership to develop noninvasive imaging with the National Institutes of Health, Helland said fundamental technologies like routers and transducers are a key step in developing quantum networking.
Helland emphasized the need for basic physical infrastructure to support the faster information processing quantum technology promises.
Recruiting and maintaining a strong federal workforce alongside steady funding for research and development are also critical to helping support quantum technology. “We have to be cognizant that at some point, we’re going to need technicians. We’re going to need people that build these computers, put these computers together to maintain these computers, build the sensors, put the sensors on satellites, put the sensors on the electric grid, and things like that and connect them together,” she said. “Along with the basic research, we have to start building the capacity to support quantum.”
Despite the influx in federal funding, Helland projects that the U.S. is about five to 10 years away from more mainstream quantum applications.
“There’s a lot of just basic research that needs to go on, just to make quantum computing viable,” she continued. “We need to develop benchmarks for quantum. But we’re not really talking about all the foundations that need to be there to build something quantum already.”

Sandra K. Helsel, Ph.D. has been researching and reporting on frontier technologies since 1990.  She has her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona.

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