The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced $218 million in new grants for “Quantum Information Science” and researchers with the Center for Quantum Mathematics and Physics (QMAP) at UC Davis are among the recipients.
Professors Veronika Hubeny and Mukund Rangamani were awarded $348,000 over two years for work on “Entanglement in String Theory and the Emergence of Geometry.” They will explore connections between the nature of spacetime, quantum entanglement and string theory. Entanglement, famously described by Einstein as “spooky action at a distance,” is a phenomenon in quantum physics where the properties of pairs of particles are correlated even when they are widely separated.
Another grant in the program went to a team including Professor Andreas Albrecht and led by Andrew Sornborger, scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and a research associate in the UC Davis Department of Mathematics. They will work on “Disentangling Quantum Entanglement: A Machine Learning Approach to Decoherence, Quantum Error Correction, and Phase Transition Dynamics.” This research will involve investigating quantum theories with a variety of model systems, including using machine learning to interpret and understand the models. The larger goals are understanding the emergence of locality and the arrow of time in the physics that governs the cosmos, Albrecht said.
The energy department’s program is a long-term investment in research towards the next generation of computing and information technologies, according to their news release. While digital computers are based on “bits” that are ones or zeroes, a quantum computer work with “qubits” that exploit the properties of quantum theory – such as entanglement – to function.
Working quantum computers are in their very early infancy, but they could theoretically achieve tasks that are not possible or too time-consuming for current computing technology.
The grants awarded range from new materials, hardware and software to the implications of quantum computing for fundamental physics.
QMAP was founded in 2015 in the College of Letters and Science with the goal of having mathematicians and physicists work together on topics at the intersection of both fields such as quantum gravity, quantum field theory and string theory. Albrecht is the center’s founding director; Hubeny and Rangamani are among the first faculty hired for the center.