The Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS) was reborn yesterday, as it launched three new research projects aimed at building “quantum machines for practical applications”.
Having secured $31.9 million of government funding in September last year, the centre – dubbed EQUS 2.0 by staff – will over the next seven years focus on quantum-enabled diagnostics and imaging, quantum engines and instruments, and designer quantum systems.
“We don’t yet know the technologies we will need in future decades, any more than the folk who worked on semiconductors in the 50s could have anticipated iPhones or compact lasers,” said centre director Professor Andrew White.
“But we do know that using all the properties of quantum mechanics enables compelling capabilities in areas from imaging to computing – the future of our technologies will be incredibly exciting.”
The centre, based at the University of Queensland, includes researchers from the University of Sydney, Macquarie University, the University of Western Australia, and the Australian National University as well as 18 partner organisations from around the world.
“Building any machine requires identifying the optimal materials for the machine’s functions, designing its eyes and ears to best sense the world around it, then correctly combining these components and tuning the engine that drives the machine. Our three research programs will do this for quantum machines,” White said.
The centre was established in 2011 with $24.5 million from the ARC, with research projects that investigated the use of “deepest principles and resources of quantum physics to solve specific problems in engineering, chemistry biology and medicine”.
One of the EQUS’s chief investigators, University of Sydney Professor Michael Biercuk, last week launched the centre’s first spin-off company Q-Ctrl. The start-up – launched with a slice of the $200 million CSIRO Innovation Fund managed by Main Sequence Ventures, plus further funds from an overseas venture capital firm – offers a firmware framework that helps to stabilise fragile quantum systems.
ARC CEO Professor Sue Thomas said the centre’s new research programs would address the most challenging problems at the interface of basic quantum physics and engineering.
“The Centre of Excellence will continue to work with industry partners to translate these research discoveries into practical applications and quantum devices—and in the process training a new generation of researchers with the skills needed to lead the future in this exciting field,” she added.