(PhysicsWorld) The UK’s National Quantum Computing Centre aims to create a collaborative working environment for building prototype quantum machines and developing innovative applications.
Construction will soon be starting on the world’s first national laboratory to be dedicated to quantum computing. With funding of £93m over the next five years, the primary objective of the UK’s National Quantum Computing Centre (NQCC) is to accelerate the scale-up and exploitation of practical quantum computers. The NQCC will be built in Harwell, Oxfordshire, alongside several other top-tier scientific facilities operated by the Science and Facilities Technology Council (STFC), and is due to open in 2023.
One of the NQCC’s key deliverables is to demonstrate a quantum computer with more than 100 qubits by 2025, which means that the NQCC team has already started to commission its first tranche of R&D projects. “The building is important, but we couldn’t wait for it to be finished because the technology is evolving rapidly and our international competitors and collaborators are moving forward at pace,” says the NQCC’s director Michael Cuthbert. “We need to do something tangible, to get started with some development work that we can learn from and that will shape our future technology programme.”
A primary objective for the NQCC will be to accelerate the growth of that quantum economy by speeding up the migration of scientific research into commercial exploitation. “There is often a gap in skills and resources when going from purely academic research into the commercial sector, and the NQCC will be aiming to bridge that gap,” explains Cuthbert. As well as incubating new start-ups and making connections with industry, an important role for the NQCC will be to nurture training and skills development – enabling academics to move into the commercial world and industry professionals with more general engineering and computing backgrounds to gain the knowledge they need to work with quantum technologies.
When the building opens in 2023, it will offer collaborative working spaces along with laboratories for testing devices and building prototype quantum computers. As well as pursuing its own R&D projects, the NQCC will continue to commission external R&D from research groups and industrial partners, and in some cases will co-develop specific technologies or applications.