AWS and Caltech open Center for Quantum Computing

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The facility in Pasadena is the new home for AWS’s quantum work and will focus on scaling the tech and building error correction into the hardware.


The AWS Center for Quantum Computing is located on the Caltech campus in Pasadena, California.

Image: AWS

AWS announced Tuesday that the new Center for Quantum Computing at the California Institute of Technology is open and ready to take on the challenges of scale and error correction. AWS will have a team of hardware engineers, quantum theorists and software developers working to “push the boundaries of quantum R&D.” Researchers and scientists will be able to make, test and operate quantum processors at the facility in addition to improving the processes for controlling quantum computers and scaling the hardware such as cryogenic cooling systems and wiring.

Oskar Painter, the John G Braun Professor of Applied Physics, Head of Quantum Hardware, and Fernando Brandao, Bren Professor of Theoretical Physics, Head of Quantum Algorithms, are the technical leads of the Center.

Nadia Carlsten, head of product at the AWS Center for Quantum Computing, wrote in a blog post that the company’s quantum customers are eager to collaborate with the center and build up internal expertise with the understanding that it’s still early days for the technology.

Caltech has been a leader in quantum technology since the origin of the idea. Richard Feynman was a Caltech physics professor and one of the first people to talk about the idea of quantum computing. In 19994, Caltech graduate Peter Shor developed a quantum algorithm for factoring large numbers quickly, and in 1998, Caltech professor Jeff Kimble achieved quantum teleportation by sending information from one light beam to another via entanglement.

SEE: IonQ and University of Maryland plan Q-Lab for hands-on quantum computing research

The university collaboration will connect the commercial side of quantum computing with  fundamental research going on at Caltech, according to an article from the institute announcing the opening of the center

“If we were to just take today’s ideas and go forward with them, we would create a dinosaur of a quantum computer,” Painter said in the article. “We need to be closely connected and tied into these basic research efforts.”

The university sees the primary goal of AWS as creating a computer architecture that builds quantum error correction into the hardware. Painter said that researchers will address the ability to scale quantum computing by many orders of magnitude as well as figuring out what problems are best solved with the technology.

The institute reports that this is the first corporate-partnership building on the Caltech campus, and it reflects Caltech’s interests in bringing fundamental science to the marketplace. 

“AWS will benefit from the ideas percolating here on campus,” Painter said.

The institute expects the center to support Caltech students and early career scientists via scholarships, internships and seminars.

“This will be pretty amazing for students, and AWS can tap into that talent,” Painter said in the article. “Those are the future engineers and scientists who are going to build quantum computers.”

Experts in quantum-related fields will contributing to the Center’s work as Amazon Scholars and Amazon Visiting Academics, including:

  • Liang Jiang, University of Chicago
  • Alexey Gorshkov, University of Maryland
  • John Preskill, Caltech
  • Gil Refael, Caltech
  • Amir Safavi-Naeimi, Stanford
  • Dave Schuster, University of Chicago
  • James Whitfield, Dartmouth

These researchers will continue to teach and conduct research at their universities while working with the Center.  

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