Quantum computing pioneers IonQ and Washington State University join the Northwest Quantum Nexus coalition

November 2, 2021 — The Northwest Quantum Nexus (NQN), a regional coalition of organizations working to advance quantum information sciences (QIS), has added two new partners to its growing network. Washington State University (WSU) and the quantum computer hardware manufacturer IonQ join NQN keystone partners Microsoft, the University of Washington (UW) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to continue building out a regional hub for QIS economic and workforce development.

“The Pacific Northwest is already a computing powerhouse, and quantum computing represents the next big advance in the computing industry,” said Nathan Baker, a PNNL computational scientist and one of the founding organizers of NQN. “Our goal with NQN is to bring together the critical elements to help QIS grow and develop in the Pacific Northwest. The addition of WSU, with its innovative physics and engineering infrastructure and student population, and QIS hardware pioneer IonQ, broadens NQN’s reach and brings new resources to the table.”

NQN collaborators share the goal of bringing quantum computing to bear on complex computing challenges that are beyond the capabilities of even the most powerful existing computing resources.

“As we expand NQN’s membership base, we build momentum through the contributions that each member brings, and we unlock new opportunities as we work collectively,” added  Microsoft Azure Quantum Director Linda Lauw.

NQN partners are co-developing hardware and software that operate quantum computing devices, evaluating new quantum-enabled materials, and creating the curricula that will prepare tomorrow’s students to work in the growing QIS economy. NQN sponsors workshops, symposia and seminar series to bring together the brightest minds in QIS for intellectual exchange.

“We are excited to join the Northwest Quantum Nexus in its effort to advance research and development in quantum information sciences and train the QIS workforce in the Pacific Northwest and beyond,” said Christopher Keane, WSU vice president for research and vice chancellor for research at the WSU Pullman campus.  “Through collaborations with partners, NQN leverages individual researcher expertise that will generate advances in quantum computing algorithms, computing, and materials for QIS. This growing ecosystem of QIS research and development will become increasingly critical to our national competitiveness in information technology during the coming century.”

IonQ brings its proprietary trapped ion quantum computing technology and ability to access its systems through cloud computing. IonQ has teamed with NQN founding partner Microsoft since 2019 to develop quantum computing infrastructure, and IonQ quantum computing hardware forms a part of Microsoft Azure Quantum’s quantum cloud solution. The Maryland-based company also has a West Coast presence.

“IonQ is delighted to join the coalition and continue contributing to building a strong and vibrant quantum ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest, a region synonymous with innovation and leadership in computing,” said Peter Chapman, IonQ President and CEO. “We already have strong relationships with many key players in the region and look forward to expanding on those partnerships within the NQN.”

Kai-Mei Fu, associate professor of physics and electrical and computer engineering at UW, co-directs UW’s quantum workforce development program and holds a joint appointment at PNNL. “A beauty of NQN is that relationships between organizations can instantaneously become more than bilateral,” she said.

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The Northwest Quantum Nexus is a coalition of research and industrial organizations in the Pacific Northwest and neighboring regions with the goal of advancing QIS research and developing a QIS-trained workforce. A core focus of NQN is scalable quantum computing for clean energy, with principal research directions in applications for quantum chemistry, quantum computing, quantum algorithms and materials for QIS.