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A superconducting quantum device.Photo by Fermilab / UA. 

With a major research university right in our backyard, a strong military presence and innovative companies spread throughout the metro region, there’s often a plethora of interesting science and technology news to be found in Southern Arizona. Tech Talk brings you recent developments.

Quantum Computing. Three researchers from the University of Arizona’s College of Engineering are part of the newly established Superconducting Quantum Materials and Systems Center, led by the US Department of Energy. The $115 million center aims to “build a quantum computer and develop quantum sensors that could lead to discoveries about dark matter and other elusive subatomic particles.” The involved local researchers are professor of electrical and computer engineering Bane Vasic, assistant professor of materials science and engineering Zheshen Zhang, and assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering Quntao Zhuang. Whereas standard computers operate on a binary system of 0s and 1s, quantum computers operate with “qubits” which can exist as 0 and 1 simultaneously, making them exponentially more powerful. However, this superposition makes quantum computers far less stable. One of the primary goals of the new Center – and the local researchers – is to increase quantum computers’ stability. According to Vasic, designing good “quantum error correction” codes and decoders is arguably the most important theoretical challenge facing practical realizations of quantum-enabled information processing systems. Zhang argues that quantum computing is going to completely transform our current technology and become a driver for the economy. The researchers expect the Center to play a major role in changing the next generation of our workforce.