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University of Colorado Boulder Gets $20M for Quantum Lab

The university will use a grant from the National Science Foundation to build a fabrication lab that will apply quantum discoveries to manufacture quantum computers, clocks, optical networks and other technologies.

CU Boulder
Shutterstock/Red Herring
(TNS) — The University of Colorado Boulder announced on Thursday it was awarded nearly $20 million from the National Science Foundation to construct a new quantum lab on campus.

CU Boulder will build a lab called the National Quantum Nanofab, which will take quantum discoveries and find ways to manufacture new technologies and devices including quantum computers, clocks, navigation tools and optical networks. Scott Diddams, a CU Boulder professor, will lead the lab alongside a team of physicists and engineers.

"Fundamentally, quantum is small," Diddams said in a release. "A focus of the (lab) will be on building quantum systems based on single ions, atoms and photons. So the devices on chips that we're building are necessarily going to be small, too."

The new lab will take about five years to build and include a clean room and nanofabrication tools. It will be an addition built off of the Sustainable, Energy and Environment Laboratory building on CU Boulder's East Campus. The space will be sealed to prevent dust or other contaminants from damaging sensitive technologies, and anyone entering will need to wear a special gear.

Once it's built, innovations in the lab might include clocks that can keep time based on the ticking of atoms or quantum computer chips that may outperform the fastest computers.

"The National Quantum Nanofab facility will significantly enhance CU Boulder's quantum ecosystem by offering access to fabrication facilities that are unparalleled in the nation," Massimo Ruzzene, CU Boulder's vice chancellor for research and innovation, said in a release. "This award acknowledges the intellectual leadership of our quantum researchers, and the resulting facility will be transformational in translating quantum discoveries into impactful technologies."

Quantum technology is advancing in laboratories, but there's a lack of knowledge about how to build manufacturable quantum devices, according to the National Science Foundation. Because these quantum building blocks are so small, new building techniques at the nanoscale are needed to advance the industry. The National Quantum Nanofab at CU Boulder intends to tackle this shortcoming by developing new, advanced approaches required to build quantum devices.

The lab will be an open-access national facility for academic, government and industrial users. It will also be an inclusive hub of education, training and outreach for diverse populations ranging from K-12 to undergraduate, graduate and community college students.

"What's going to make our facility unique is the community around it," Diddams said. "I expect that as professors and students work in there and brush shoulders with people from our local companies, new opportunities will arise for people to learn and innovate together."

In October, Colorado was designated a Quantum Tech Hub, opening up tens of millions of dollars in funding and elevating the region's profile as a leader in the field. CU Boulder's new lab is another step forward for the state as it continues to grow its quantum industry.

"Colorado and the Rocky Mountain West continue to lead the quantum revolution. This is in no small part because of the work of talented federal researchers at CU Boulder and our higher education institutions who are exploring groundbreaking quantum science and technology," U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, said in a statement. "I am excited to see this monumental federal investment making its way to CU Boulder, and will continue to champion investments that further support Colorado's innovation economy."

©2024 the Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.