Bringing Scientists Together Across Fields to Push the Boundaries of Quantum Information
Physicists traditionally work in isolation, rarely discussing their research with colleagues in other scientific fields who could benefit from their findings. That’s changing at Caltech, where a diverse set of faculty, postdoctoral scholars and graduate students from across the fields of physics, applied physics, materials science, computer science, math, engineering and applied sciences are working together to break the boundaries of what we know about quantum information.
Scientists at Caltech have received a highly-competitive $12.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue the cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research they started with $5 million in seed funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to create the Institute of Quantum Information. Over the next five years, Caltech will use the NSF funding to create a new Physics Frontiers Center.
Caltech was the single institution selected from more than 50 proposals to NSF.NSF was impressed by the vibrant, collaborative community formed under the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation’s grant, and the Institute of Quantum Information will be merged with the new center into a single Institute for Quantum Information and Matter. NSF doesn’t generally fund cross-disciplinary research, but after seeing the advances made under the startup grant they recognized how working across multiple disciplines could drive breakthrough research and engage young scientists.
Inter-disciplinary research on quantum information has the potential to advance our understanding of basic physics and may even help create a quantum computer that could solve problems that our digital computers can’t handle. In addition, when postdoctoral scholars at the Institute move on to their next positions at the top academic institutions around the world, they’ll be bringing their unique training and collegiate work approach with them, opening the door for new scientific breakthroughs that might only be possible through interdisciplinary thinking.