Virginia Tech has joined the Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance a rapidly growing hub of quantum technology research, development, innovation, and education led by the University of Maryland.

Virginia Tech’s involvement with collaborative effort brings the number of universities, government agencies, national laboratories, and industry partners in the Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance (MQA) to a total of 24. “MQA members are building a vibrant and diverse ecosystem designed to foster U.S. and regional leadership in the coming quantum technology revolution,” a MQA news release stated.

The MQA said it seeks to advance the regional quantum ecosystem by raising public awareness of quantum opportunities, drive quantum science discovery, develop pioneering quantum technologies, support quantum entrepreneurship, and train the quantum workforce of tomorrow.

Vito Scarola, an associate professor in the Department of Physics, led the effort for Virginia Tech to join the MQA. Virginia Tech faculty members joining the MQA come from physics, the Department of Chemistry, and the Department of Mathematics, all in the College of Science, and the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, both in the College of Engineering.

Scarola said the reasons to join the MQA were manyfold, including research opportunities and collaborations. “We’re hoping to create a central network of shared experimental resources as well,” he added. “So, if one university has a clean room, you can travel back and forth and share equipment and resources.”

One of the most highly anticipated quantum technologies is quantum computing. Efforts to design and build a quantum computer triggered a massively popular area of science and engineering spanning the globe. Quantum computers are expected to be able to carry out certain kinds of calculations far more efficiently than the “classical” computers in use today. They are similar to classical computers, however, in that they run algorithms by applying sequences of logic gates — in this case, “quantum gates,” which together form quantum circuits — to bits of information.

“Joining the Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance will enhance Virginia Tech’s prospects of forging closer partnership with national labs, industry leaders, and other academic institutions that are currently active in research related to quantum science and engineering,” said Dan Sui, vice president for research and innovation at Virginia Tech. “Continuing to support Virginia Tech’s quantum collaboratory is a top priority, and I am confident that our quantum information science and engineering faculty will benefit from this exciting new membership.”

Scarola said the alliance could allow for the hiring of Virginia Tech doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers into private companies or national laboratories. “These groups need to hire people with training in quantum technologies and they would get access to them through this cooperation.”

The MQA launched in January 2020 as the Maryland Quantum Alliance before changing its name to the Mid-Atlantic Quantum Alliance to reflect its growing geographical coverage of academia, national laboratories, and industry.

Additional new members joining MQA include the National Institute of Standards & Technology, IBM, Protiviti Inc., Quantopo LLC, Quaxys LLC, Maryland’s Bowie State University, Georgetown University, the University of Pittsburgh’s Pittsburgh Quantum Institute, and the University of Delaware.        

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