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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is making a $15 million investment in the emerging area of quantum information science and engineering, a field poised to revolutionize computing, communication, security, measurement and sensing by utilizing the unique and powerful capabilities of quantum mechanics.

The centerpiece of the campus effort will be the formation of the Illinois Quantum Information Science and Technology Center. This will include a major hiring initiative to expand the number of quantum science experts at Illinois across multiple departments throughout the College of Engineering and the campus. The center will also enable the development of a focused program to educate the next-generation quantum workforce. The investment will also include state-of-the-art equipment for the fabrication of quantum materials and devices.

The center will bring together Illinois’ physicists, engineers, computer scientists and many others to develop new paradigms in quantum information science and technology. They will discover and develop novel quantum algorithms, materials and devices. One of the center’s key projects will be the construction of a multi-node quantum testbed, enabling researchers to explore and implement new ideas for distributed quantum processing and applications of quantum networks. This work will continue the legacy of the contributions of the University of Illinois to the digital information revolution.

“Quantum science and technology researchers are bold, and they face immense and difficult challenges – like any trailblazer,” said Rashid Bashir, who will become dean of Illinois’ College of Engineering on Nov. 1. “IQUIST will serve as the launching pad of innovations in quantum science and engineering. Building on our past and our current strengths, our scientists and engineers will lead the quantum information revolution to develop a new paradigm in computing and information processing.”

Provost Andreas Cangellaris

Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

With IQUIST, the College of Engineering will also launch new educational initiatives to train the future leaders of quantum scientists and engineers at the graduate and undergraduate levels. “The New York Times reported on the lack of quantum science and technology talent just last week. It’s crucial, as one of the largest and best engineering and physics programs in the country, to address both the technical and research challenges and the educational and workforce challenges that we face,” Provost Andreas Cangellaris said.

IQUIST will foster and expand collaborations with industry, national labs and other academic institutions, such as the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab. As a participant in the Discovery Partners Institute’s Illinois Innovation Network, IQUIST will contribute to strengthening Illinois’ economy through high-tech workforce and next-generation technology development.

“Our campus has a legacy of groundbreaking contributions to fundamental science and the development of technologies that have shaped society over the past century, including the first automatic computer, magnetic resonance imaging, light-emitting diodes and the first modern internet browser. Not to mention the first computer built and owned by an educational institution,” Chancellor Robert Jones said. “Today, we are pleased to announce near-term concrete actions that will advance this critical area of national need and importance.”