(NWA.Online) A $20 million National Science Foundation grant will support research “absolutely at the forefront” of efforts to develop a new generation of computing and communications technology, said Hugh Churchill, an associate professor of physics at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
The grant award establishes a joint effort between UA and Montana State University known as the MonArk NSF Quantum Foundry.
Researchers will be working to more efficiently produce materials formed by bonding a single layer of atoms.
“Quantum technology requires very different material properties than regular computing and communications technology,” said Churchill, an associate director of the new initiative.
The branch of physics known as quantum mechanics helps explain workings of the physical world when objects are very small, temperatures are very cold or the time scale under study is very short, said Churchill.
Under these circumstances, “the laws of physics that objects follow are different than what they are in our everyday experience,” Churchill said. Efforts to harness the science have led to work on technologies like quantum computers.
Churchill said it’s “too simplistic” to think of quantum computers as simply better and faster versions of the technology widely used today. But the technology holds promise, he said. “There are certain types of problems that regular computers can’t do that we think quantum computers can do very efficiently,” Churchill said.