Science and Technology
Harnessing the power of quantum physics to address emerging national security needs with new capabilities in sensing, imaging, and computing.
Quantum science and technology is a focal point of research at LLNL. Quantum-coherent devices offer the potential for unprecedented precision in sensing and the ability to directly simulate complex quantum phenomena that have no known efficient classical algorithms. Thus, development and implementation of quantum technologies is expected to have a significant impact on our ability to address some of the most complex national security problems.
Our teams study quantum science challenges from a broad range of perspectives, drawing on deep talent pools in areas such as physics, chemistry, optics, engineering, data science, and materials science. Our multidisciplinary research teams are exploring novel solutions that will enable development of a new generation of quantum computing and sensing systems.
Our novel solutions include:
- Synthesis and characterization of materials with special quantum properties
- Developing a fundamental understanding and control of the sources of noise and decoherence in quantum systems
- Careful engineering of the interface between quantum and classical control, sensing, and computing elements
Research and development priorities
Our research and development activities focus on five main priorities:
- Quantum-coherent device physics
- Quantum materials
- Quantum–classical interfaces
- Computing and simulation
- Sensing and detection
Learn more about our research by exploring the sections below or by reading the Science & Technology Review article titled “Livermore Leaps into Quantum Computing.”
Quantum-coherent device physics
The building blocks of a quantum system are its highly specialized components, including superconducting qubits and resonators that enable better control of the electrical flow. Our physicists and materials scientists collaborate to design, fabricate, and characterize qubits and resonators that offer the performance needed for quantum computing and sensing systems.
Our physicists combine qubits in new configurations to enable faster calculations, such as a system where all qubits are interconnected. They also develop qubits with unique resonator geometries, enabling better control of the electrical flow and improving coherence time, including 3D resonators fabricated via additive manufacturing with cavity shapes that enable better qubit control.
Our materials science experts develop and optimize quantum materials with extremely low energy and exotic physical properties. These superconductive materials are needed to build quantum devices and systems, including scalable qubits that form the building blocks of quantum computing systems, as well as materials that will be needed by quantum sensors and quantum-enabled imaging devices.
Our teams are engineering complex metamaterials with new geometries and tailored properties, as well as expanding our ability to design, synthesize, and manipulate the properties of quantum materials. We develop materials that can function at the extremely low temperatures required for quantum coherence, while remaining stable over long timeframes. The materials need to be immune to environmental noise and free from defects that can reduce quantum coherence and degrade performance.
Quantum computing systems require a high-fidelity classical interface to achieve qubit control and to conduct measurements of the quantum device. We leverage LLNL’s expertise with photonic systems, such as radar and laser systems, to develop and optimize a quantum–classical interface. Our researchers are exploring ways to use low-noise, high-fidelity, radio frequency signal generation to increase the information capacity of a novel quantum–classical interface.
Computing and simulation
Our multidisciplinary research teams design, develop, and evaluate prototype quantum computing systems, bringing us closer to demonstrating a fully programmable quantum computing system with powerful simulation capabilities. To date, our researchers have designed and built two fully programmable prototype systems, where they test new system architectures by evaluating design choices that affect connectivity, efficiency, complexity, and control.
We are exploring ways to connect and control multiple qubits, to identify the ideal number of qubits in a system, and to isolate the system from the environment, control it, and prolong coherence.
We are developing advanced quantum control techniques for quantum computing environments as well as new mathematical approaches to machine learning that are more amenable to implementation on quantum computers than today’s algorithms.
Sensing and detection
LLNL has a long history of developing sophisticated sensing and detection technology, and we are exploring ways to exceed the capabilities of today’s tools by exploiting quantum phenomena, such as entanglement, Bose–Einstein statistics, and wave–particle duality.
We are exploring ways to manipulate superposition and entanglement to achieve multi-photon quantum states that can support ultra-high-resolution sensing and imaging capabilities. These atomic-scale, optical and microwave sensing capabilities are expected to provide control and intrinsic self-calibration for real-time, high-impact applications. New quantum sensing capabilities will support LLNL’s efforts to solve mission-relevant challenges in areas such as remote sensing, gravity gradiometry, and inertial motion sensors.