Two from Hopkins join national effort to advance quantum computing

Tyrel McQueen and Surjeet Rajendran join new Quantum Information Science Research Centers, developed under the U.S. Department of Energy

Jon Schroeder
Office phone

Two Johns Hopkins University physicists will join a sweeping effort by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science to launch five new Quantum Information Science Research Centers to develop the next generation of quantum devices.

Tyrel McQueen, a professor in the departments of Physics & Astronomy and Chemistry, will be part of the Co-design Center for Quantum Advantage, housed at Brookhaven National Lab in Long Island, New York, and charged with developing materials, hardware, and software to advance quantum computing. Surjeet Rajendran, an associate professor of physics and astronomy, will work with another center, the Superconducting Quantum Materials and Systems Center, based at Fermilab in Illinois. That center will aim to build a futuristic quantum computer with superconducting technologies and develop new quantum sensors.

Tyrel McQueen (left) and Surjeet Rajendran

Image caption: Tyrel McQueen (left) and Surjeet Rajendran

The two join dozens of experts from across the country who will work to advance quantum information technology and develop quantum-based applications in computing, communication, and sensing.

Quantum information science takes advantage of quantum bits, or qubits, in place of traditional binary bits of "1" or "0." Quantum computers have the potential to solve problems that would be practically impossible for traditional supercomputers to solve. However, qubits are inherently unstable and difficult to steady. The new centers will focus on developing more reliable quantum devices.

"I will serve as a theorist who will invent ways to use quantum sensors to discover new physics such as dark matter, dark energy, and gravitational waves," Rajendran says. The center will benefit from Rajendran's previous research that has led to the development of quantum sensing tools to search for axions, hidden photons, scalar dark matter, and gravitational waves.

The Co-design Center for Quantum Advantage will develop quantum computer hardware and software with the goal of having a quantum computer outperform a classical one for certain computations. In particular, the center will work on quantum advantage in computations for high-energy and nuclear physics, chemistry, materials science, condensed matter physics, and other fields.

"It's my pleasure to contribute to the development of new materials that enable the next generation of quantum devices," McQueen said.

The research centers are enabled by the National Quantum Initiative Act, approved in 2018 to accelerate quantum information science and technology applications.