The University of Maryland has been awarded $10.3 million in stimulus funds by the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to build an advanced quantum science lab.
The grant is part of a $123 million nationwide series of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants to support the construction of new scientific research facilities at 11 universities and one non-profit research organization.
Maryland's Laboratory for Advanced Quantum Science (LAQS) will be built underground with exquisite environmental controls to eliminate even minute vibrations or changes in temperature. Cutting-edge research in quantum science demands these exacting specifications, while contributing to the basic understanding of the universe, as well as technologies such as cryptography, advanced computing and the design and use of sensors of many kinds.
"This remarkable laboratory will allow researchers to greatly improve our fundamental understandings of quantum science, with important implications for an array of technologies," says University of Maryland President C.D. Mote, Jr. "The University's strengths in physics, quantum, and atomic and molecular optics will play essential roles in these processes. The University of Maryland is extraordinarily pleased to be partnering with NIST on another groundbreaking project."
One of the prime users of the new facility will be the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), a partnership between the University and NIST. The 21,000 square foot lab will provide JQI scientists and other investigators with facilities specially designed for the needs of research at the frontiers of quantum science.
The facility will be located within the University's planned Physical Sciences Complex. The grant calls for a $5.2 million local match by the state and the University.
"These world-class labs will keep us at the forefront of quantum science," says JQI Co-Director Steven Rolston. "We are deeply grateful for the opportunity this award makes possible, and we intend to produce results that will fully justify the confidence that NIST has shown in our research goals and capabilities."
The JQI scientists work at the intersection of three fast-moving research areas: atomic, molecular and optical physics; condensed matter physics; and quantum information science.
Many of the instruments they use, such as precision lasers, must be protected from even tiny vibrations. The temperature must be strictly controlled to prevent materials from expanding or contracting a few billionths of a meter.
The new lab at Maryland will feature environmental controls for clean air, low vibration and electromagnetic interference, as well as stable temperature and humidity that meet the exacting standards of the Advanced Measurement Laboratories at NIST, which are widely regarded as the most sophisticated facilities of their kind.
Construction of the Physical Sciences Complex, including the LAQS, is expected to begin this year and to be completed by spring 2013.
The University of Maryland is home to the Joint Quantum Institute and a Physics Frontier Center devoted to quantum science, a research center focused on the basic and applied science needed to achieve the long-sought goal of creating a quantum computer.
Supported by the National Science Foundation, Maryland's Physics Frontier Center is operated by the Joint Quantum Institute. Its extensive and highly cross-disciplinary research program in processing quantum coherence is designed to further efforts to develop a quantum computer.
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