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Regional Quantum Research Body Adds Industry, Government, Higher Ed Partners

UMD-Convened Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance Expands Impact and Reach in Vital New Technology Realm

By Maryland Today Staff

JQI lab

Photo by John T. Consoli

UMD's broad range of quantum science and technology research contributes to the growing Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance (MQA), which seeks to make our region a center for advancing a field expected to revolutionize computing, sensing, information technology and more.

A hub of quantum technology research, innovation and education centered on the University of Maryland gained 10 members in the past year, expanding a vibrant and diverse ecosystem meant to foster U.S. and regional leadership in an increasing vital field.

The newest additions to the 24-member Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance (MQA) include the National Institute of Standards and Technology, IBM, Bowie State University and several other major firms and out-of-state universities and institutions in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware. 

Launched in January 2020 as the Maryland Quantum Alliance, the MQA has been renamed the Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance to reflect its larger, more inclusive scope. The University of Maryland, long recognized as a national and world leader in quantum science and technology, with five quantum research centers dedicated to the field, convened and facilitated the consortium of quantum scientists and engineers in academia, and national laboratories and industry. (One industry member, IonQ, is a UMD spinoff company based in the university's Discovery District.)

“We are very pleased to welcome new partners to the Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance,” said University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines. "Our region is already a world leader in quantum science and technology, and the MQA is working to expand its impact in the design, building and commercialization of quantum technologies, and to create a skilled, diverse quantum workforce. This work is essential to power the coming quantum revolution in computing, communication, sensing, materials and many other areas."

For the past year, MQA workgroups have been creating ways for members to more easily share resources, facilities, equipment, expertise and data; they’re also easing the process for members to team up to pursue joint opportunities, as well as to educate the public about the promise of quantum science and technology, which leverages the often surprising physics of the universe at the scale of individual atoms and photons.

In addition, the expanding alliance helps its members work together on training a quantum workforce and establishing global thought leadership in the field. The MQA recently launched several new initiatives to showcase its technical leadership on the global stage, support quantum commercialization and entrepreneurship, and expand the quantum talent pipeline.

"MQA members' wealth of relevant expertise and Maryland’s concentration of world-leading quantum institutes with cutting-edge facilities and research, made this the ideal place to launch our new quantum technologies company,” said Alan Salari, founder and CEO of Quaxys, a new MQA member that is developing a new generation of hardware systems used for control and measurement of quantum bits, the basic unit of information in quantum computing. “We are excited to collaborate with experts from the University of Maryland and other MQA members in our work to bring the best of such technology to the market in the shortest time." 

Bowie State University Professor Chaobin Liu heralded the benefits of the institution’s MQA membership for students at the state of Maryland’s first historically Black public university.

“We expect that MQA will create opportunities for BSU students to leverage the world-class quantum expertise, educational resources and career opportunities in the region and to fully participate in the second quantum revolution,” said Liu, whose research and teaching focuses on probability theory and mathematical statistics, mathematical physics and quantum computation.

Other goals of the organization include making relevant quantum expertise and technology easier to find and access, elevating diversity and inclusion as a core part of MQA efforts, connecting with public and K-12 educational campaigns, and building international partnerships.

“Building and expanding diverse collaborations across different types of organizations are the foundations for a vibrant quantum economy within the region, which is the prime purpose of the MQA,” said MQA Interim Executive Director John Sawyer. “Our members work together to align basic and applied quantum science with real-world needs and requirements, enable more rapid discovery of creative solutions, and equitably create the necessary infrastructure and workforce to scale up quantum technologies.” 

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