UO physicist cheers passage of National Quantum Initiative

The University of Oregon stands to have a role in the development of quantum information science after President Donald Trump signed the National Quantum Initiative Act last week.

The $1.2 billion initiative, which moved forward with input from the UO, promises to revolutionize everything from computing to navigation to encryption.

“We applaud the passage of this critical initiative and thank everyone who supported our UO quantum group as we advanced this bill and as we move forward to great things,” said Michael Raymer, a Philip H. Knight Professor in the Department of Physics.

In particular, Raymer praised UO President Michael Schill; Provost Jayanth Banavar; David Conover, vice president for research and innovation; and Andrew Marcus, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, for their support in the process.

Raymer and physicist Christopher Monroe of the University of Maryland co-authored the original proposals for a National Quantum Initiative.

The measure, HR 6227, was signed into law by the president after the Senate gave its unanimous consent. The House of Representatives had earlier approved it by a vote of 348-11.

Over five years, the funding will support federal efforts to boost investment in quantum information science and support a quantum-smart workforce. The act also creates a National Quantum Coordination Office, calls for the development of a strategic plan and establishes an advisory committee to the White House on quantum computing issues.

The UO is well-positioned for a key role in the initiative. In October, Raymer and two colleagues, chemistry professor Andy Marcus and physics professor Brian Smith, received a $997,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to pursue studies in quantum science.

The UO quantum group plans to team with scientists at other universities on a proposal to create a research center, Raymer said. Additionally, he added, the UO and institutions like it can play important roles in training the next-generation workforce in quantum information science and technology.