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Quantum Information Science

About QIS at Argonne

Argonne researchers have been among the first to explore quantum technologies since Argonne emeritus scientist Paul Benioff proposed his pioneering theoretical framework for a quantum computer in the 1980s. Building on this tradition of pioneering leadership, Argonne researchers, today, pursue a range of projects in materials for quantum information, quantum computing, and quantum sensing. These areas of focus include the development of algorithms and software, new materials and sensors, hybrid quantum computing, and complex simulations of physical and chemical processes, among others. We also concentrate on the development of materials for building better quantum bits, or qubits — the quantum version of the classical binary bit — for computing, finding new practical applications for quantum devices, and designing novel technologies to advance machine learning on near-term quantum-computing platforms.

We provide vision and forge collaboration with other research institutions, government agencies, and industry partners to better understand and develop technologies based on quantum mechanics, which governs matter at the atomic and subatomic world in ways that contrast with the physics of everyday life in bizarre and counterintuitive ways.

What is quantum information science?

Quantum information science (QIS) is a fast-growing field of study in which scientists use the quantum theory of matter to understand and develop systems that can store, transport, manipulate, and protect information. Through QIS research, scientists aim to leverage the mysterious behavior of atoms at a small scale to create powerful changes in the field of information science on a practical scale.

Fields that fall under QIS include quantum computing, quantum sensing, quantum communication, quantum cryptography, materials for quantum information, and more.

What is quantum theory?

Quantum theory is a framework for looking at the world at its most fundamental scale. Quantum effects were first directly observed at the atomic level, where matter behaves differently from what people regularly observe—particles can sometimes have wavelike properties, and nature’s continuous texture that we are familiar with shifts from smooth and continuous to discrete and broken-up. Quantum theory provides scientists with a way to describe this behavior, helping them to understand peculiar phenomena from the decay of a radioactive nucleus to the birth of a star, to the entire universe itself.

What is a qubit?

Unit of information

The information at the center of QIS can take many forms, but its most basic unit is the qubit,” or the quantum bit, a two-state quantum system, that generalizes the notion of   classical bit” of information to QIS.

Quantum computer component

A classical computer bit can only be in one state or the other, but a qubit’s quantum mechanical properties allow it to be in a superposition of two states at once, providing unique and significant advantages for information storage and transfer. Multiple qubits can be entangled – a type of correlation that has no classical analog and which is the most distinguishable and powerful feature of quantum computing. Scientists are exploring the power of the qubit to eventually surpass classical information science in speed, security and energy efficiency.