Overall, the US is one of the leading players in the research, investment and private sector in quantum tech globally. Going back a few decades, the US was the dominant player until China made strides, beginning in the 2010s. With a handful of research institutes, many universities and a healthy number of corporates and startups, this is only set to continue.
The Quantum Insider must warn you, however, that as it says in the title, this is a “brief” outline of the quantum tech industry in the US, and we have only covered a small fraction of what is actually going on. If we missed anyone or anything, please don’t take it personally — we’re only human, after all.
The US government has made a number of strategic investments in quantum computing (QC) research and development through various initiatives, the most important in recent times being the National Quantum Initiative Act, signed into law in 2018 by President Donald Trump and coordinated by The National Quantum Coordination Office. The Act provides the United States with a plan to advance quantum technology, particularly quantum computing and offers general support for a number of government agencies that develop programs connected to quantum science and technology in the country.
Prior to that, however, the US government was the first to conduct a workshop on quantum computing organized by NIST in 1994. Two years later, it issued the first public call for research proposals in quantum information processing in a joint partnership with the Army Research Laboratory.
The government’s investments in QC research are aimed at advancing this technology to solve some of the most challenging problems in science, engineering and national security. Research is currently aimed at applying quantum computing technology to improve outcomes in drug discovery and cryptography, as well as financial and climate modelling.
A report by The Quantum Insider published in January of this year, states that as part of its commitment to accelerating U.S. leadership in QIS, the Biden-Harris Administration has emphasized a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach while mitigating potential risks. Additionally, with budget expenditures for QIS R&D increasing from $449 million in 2019 to $918 million in 2022, and requested budget authority of $844 million for 2023, the United States has made substantial and sustained investments in QIS R&D.
The government has also established several national laboratories whose sole focus is targeted at quantum computing research. These include the Argonne National Laboratory, whose CELS Directorate is pursuing research in quantum information science that spans theory, algorithms, simulations, and modelling of quantum systems, the Brookhaven National Laboratory, which is delivering a cross-disciplinary strategy to harness quantum effects in physics for advanced computing, communications, and fundamental science and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, busy researching theory to application for quantum tech.
Many private institutions are researching QC too, some of the best include MIT, Caltech, Harvard, and Stanford.
Here is where the US really dominates, with several leading quantum computing companies, many of them leading corporations from the classical computing industry. Examples of these such as IBM and its research and production of superconducting circuit-based commercial quantum computers. Google comes to mind and its 53-qubit superconducting Sycamore quantum processor, created by Google’s Artificial Intelligence division. Microsoft is another major player on the market, featuring solutions, software and hardware delivered through Azure.
Independent startup players — and there are a lot of them — include IonQ, a publicly-traded spinoff from the University of Maryland and Duke University. The company is developing a general-purpose trapped ion quantum computer and software to generate, optimize and execute quantum circuits. Another to note is Quantum Computing Inc. The Leesburg, Virginia-based company delivers a suite of full-stack quantum solutions that include the Entropy Quantum Computer (EQC), designed to exclude noise in the system and create useful qubits to perform computations and its software offering Qatalyst, a cloud-based service that solves different types of optimization problems on a variety of quantum computers or quantum simulators that is also a public company.
Although it would be nearly impossible to mention the most important people currently involved in quantum tech in the country here as it is a very long list, two that stand out are John Martinis and John Preskill.
Martinis’ influence spans both academia and the commercial sector. A professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, In 2014 he joined the Google Quantum A.I. Lab in order to build a quantum computer using superconducting qubits, though he resigned from Google in 2020 and moved to Australia to join Silicon Quantum Computing, a startup founded by Professor Michelle Simmons, which he was involved in until 2021.
2019 was an important year academically for Martinis, as he and his team published a paper in Nature, Quantum supremacy using a programmable superconducting processor, where they presented how they achieved quantum supremacy (hereby disproving the extended Church–Turing thesis) for the first time using a 53-qubits quantum computer.
Another notable figure is John Preskill, an American theoretical physicist and the Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology, where he is also the Director of the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter.
Preskill is known to have coined not one but two terms that are common parlance in quantum computing circles today, “quantum supremacy” back in 2012 and “noisy intermediate-scale quantum” (NISQ) in 2018.
It’s guaranteed the US will be a leader this decade and beyond in quantum tech, spurred on by significant government investment in research and a thriving private ecosystem.
Quantum Intelligence Platform
This is only a basic overview of what is happening in the US in the quantum tech industry. Want to find out more about the US quantum ecosystem? For a more in-depth look at the market there, look no further than The Quantum Insider’s very own Quantum Intelligence Platform, the leading provider of Quantum Computing market data, reports, analytics, and insights on QC companies, investors, funding, and more.
Based on our proprietary taxonomy and customizable metadata, the platform allows you to find robust funding commercial information that can be filtered by subsector and technology type while being effortlessly integrated into The Quantum Insider’s database of news and information on the Quantum Computing industry.
But that’s not all, recently we added our Data Graph Explorer, a tool that allows those interested to spot interesting relationships and connections in the quantum market and make decisions based on those relationships.