Interview with QSA’s technology coordinator William D. Oliver
Broad interdisciplinary efforts at the Quantum Systems Accelerator (QSA) advance the three major modalities in quantum computing: neutral atoms, trapped-ion systems, and superconducting circuits. With multiple avenues explored in the quantum science endeavor, QSA’s technology coordinator helps Center leadership see the big picture and advises on new approaches.
MIT’s William D. Oliver, who has a background in electrical engineering, serves in this role at QSA. Oliver is a recognized leader in the field with more than 20 years of experience in the quantum engineering of superconducting quantum circuits. Quantum engineering integrates the theory of quantum mechanics with electrical and electronic engineering, systems engineering, material science, and computer science for the practical applications of quantum information science.
In a one-on-one interview, Oliver recently shared his thoughts.
Excited about the future of the field, Oliver describes how new technologies and sophisticated devices will enable scientific discovery and broaden our understanding of physics and the universe. He said:
Despite the significant progress achieved over the past years, with many recent milestones driven by QSA partners and researchers, there’s another dimension to the field’s development. Quantum engineering requires co-design.
Oliver explained how as with any complex technological endeavor, broad engineering skill sets take theoretical concepts and turn them into working systems.
QSA regularly conducts Center-wide science meetings so that researchers can share lessons learned, explore what others work on, as well as enable inclusion and belonging for an increasingly diverse workforce. This approach breaks through research silos, guides diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) values, and fosters the cross-pollination of ideas needed to think and design at the systems level. Early-career researchers at different QSA partner institutions, for example, have discovered alternatives to problems they had been working on as a result of these conversations and meetings with other members.
Driven by the advances in quantum error resiliency, researchers can currently simulate and compare the ideal results of a quantum computer with classical computers for most applications. However, as devices increase in complexity, many quantum verification, validation, and control models will not be possible to verify classically. Therefore, researchers are starting to look ahead to “logical qubits.” A logical qubit combines multiple physical qubits in a way that protects against noise, so that it can be used as one reliable qubit for quantum computation.
Oliver offered his broad perspective on how to move forward from the current NISQ quantum era toward the future of logical qubits and what that would mean for the demonstrations of quantum advantage.
QSA advances quantum engineering by co-designing the solutions needed to build working quantum systems that outperform today’s computers and accelerate the maturation of commercial technologies.
Founded in 1931 on the belief that the biggest scientific challenges are best addressed by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been recognized with 14 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers develop sustainable energy and environmental solutions, create useful new materials, advance the frontiers of computing, and probe the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists from around the world rely on the Lab’s facilities for their own discovery science. Berkeley Lab is a multiprogram national laboratory, managed by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit energy.gov/science.
Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia Labs has major research and development responsibilities in nuclear deterrence, global security, defense, energy technologies and economic competitiveness, with main facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California.
The Quantum Systems Accelerator (QSA) is one of the five National Quantum Information Science Research Centers funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. Led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and with Sandia National Laboratories as lead partner, QSA will catalyze national leadership in quantum information science to co-design the algorithms, quantum devices, and engineering solutions needed to deliver certified quantum advantage in scientific applications. QSA brings together dozens of scientists who are pioneers of many of today’s unique quantum engineering and fabrication capabilities. In addition to industry and academic partners across the world, 15 U.S. institutions are part of QSA: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, University of Colorado at Boulder, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Caltech, Duke University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, UC Berkeley, University of Maryland, University of New Mexico, University of Southern California, UT Austin, and Canada’s Université de Sherbrooke. For more information, please visit: quantumsystemsaccelerator.org