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Defense and Intelligence

Three Companies to Work on Utility-Scale Quantum Computing Under DARPA Program

Technology research

Three Companies to Work on Utility-Scale Quantum Computing Under DARPA Program

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has selected three companies to work on quantum computing projects.

Under the Underexplored Systems for Utility-Scale Quantum Computing program, Atom Computing, Microsoft and PsiQuantum will determine whether an underexplored approach can perform much faster than conventional computational methods and can exceed operational costs. During the initial phase, the three companies will present a design concept and will inform DARPA of their plans to create a utility-scale quantum computer.

US2QC is expected to span five years and have four phases, DARPA said Tuesday.

Joe Altepeter, manager of US2QC, said the program is designed to reduce unexpected results from underexplored quantum computers. He added that the program would put the United States on top when it comes to quantum computing and would ensure that the country’s national security capabilities will be safe from surprises.

The U.S. government has ramped up efforts in adopting quantum computing. In late December, President Joe Biden signed into law the Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act, which encourages federal agencies to adopt IT systems that use post-quantum cryptography.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, post-quantum cryptography can protect against quantum-enabled and classical computer-enabled decryption and can interoperate with existing protocols and networks.

Altepeter said while quantum computing has its projected benefits, its impact is still relatively unclear. He noted that a conclusive comparison between quantum-enabled and classical computing has not yet been completed, and it is still uncertain if a utility-scale quantum computer could be built.

The US2QC program is designed to answer the aforementioned questions through collaborative and flexible verification and validation activities.

Atom Computing builds scalable quantum computers based on optically trapped atoms while PsiQuantum uses silicon-based photonics to create a quantum computer based on a fabric of photonic qubits. Microsoft, with its experience in the computer industry, is building an industrial-scale system based on qubit architecture.

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