Defense Advanced Research Projects AgencyTagged Content List

Quantum Science

Understanding and leveraging quantum effects for military benefit

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DARPA published its Young Faculty Award (YFA) 2018 Research Announcement today, seeking proposals in 26 different topic areas—the largest number of YFA research areas ever solicited.
A unique class of engineered light-manipulating materials, known as metamaterials or structured materials, makes use of patterns of strongly interacting wavelength or sub-wavelength-sized elements. Because of these intricate internal and surface structures, new properties have emerged, some exhibiting behavior that has resulted in rewriting long-understood “laws” for how light and other electromagnetic (EM) waves interact with materials. These materials have been opening up new options for controlling EM waves in many technological arenas, among them imaging, thermal control, and frequency conversion. Specific applications include night-vision, heat reflection and management in aircraft engines, and temperature regulation of electronics on satellites in the hot-and-cold extremes of space.
Whether it is excited electrons emitting photons in a lightbulb or the vibrational frequency of atoms in an atomic clock, quantum phenomena are simultaneously fundamental aspects of nature and the basis of current state-of-the-art and future technologies. This is particularly the case as sensor and device performance continue to improve and approach their fundamental limits. It is not lost on DARPA that controlling quantum phenomena is an increasingly important challenge in the realm of national defense.
Universal quantum computers with millions of quantum bits, or qubits – which can represent a one, a zero, or a coherent linear combination of one and zero – would revolutionize information processing for commercial and military applications. Realizing that vision, however, is still decades away. The problem is the performance and reliability of quantum devices depend on the length of time the underlying quantum states can remain coherent. If you wait long enough, interactions with the environment will make the state behave like a conventional classical system, removing any quantum advantage. Often, this coherence time is significantly short, which makes it difficult to perform any meaningful computations.
DARPA has selected seven university and industry teams for the first phase of the Optimization with Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum devices (ONISQ) program. Phase 1 of the program began in March and will last 18 months.