Last year, some of the greatest powerhouses in Quantum Information Science (QIS) came together to advance research, education, workforce, and economic development through the launch of Quantum New Mexico (QNM). Recently, the Quantum New Mexico Institute (QNM-I) advanced this effort by holding an Exchange Workshop dedicated to building critical collaborative connections between UNM faculty, postdocs and Sandia National Laboratories.

Thanks to QNM-I, the opportunities for all students to expand on their education in QIS will continue to grow through efforts such as the Exchange Workshop. In partnership with Sandia technical staff, this academic institute brings together UNM faculty, students, postdocs and other experts within the field to collaborate develop new research in the burgeoning field.

QNM-I allows for the opportunity to engage with the business, technology transfer, and economic development groups at Sandia while UNM provides new prospects for recruitment, funding, and industry. Both UNM and Sandia are motivated to provide a high-quality, collaborative space for relationships between undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty, and other experts.

The workshop was held in UNM’s new state-of-the-art facility, the Physics & Astronomy and Interdisciplinary Science (PAÍS) building. In order to accelerate breakthroughs in the development of radically new quantum technologies, cutting-edge facilities like PAÍS, the Center for High Technology Materials (CHTM), and Sandia’s Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT) will be instrumental in this effort.

The collaborations supported by the QNM-I will help facilitate a wide variety of projects, including the benchmarking of quantum hardware, the development of new quantum algorithms, quantum sensing, and a variety of quantum computing platforms based on trapped atoms and solid-state qubits.

Regents’ Professor & CQuIC Director Ivan Deutsch discusses Quantum Information and AMO Physics.

“The development of quantum science and engineering as a new economic sector in New Mexico represents a huge opportunity for our state, and as the major research university in New Mexico with significant expertise in these areas, we are well positioned to both develop these technologies from idea to product and to educate and train the advanced workforce that will be necessary for quantum-based companies to grow in our state," said UNM Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs James Holloway. "Our partnership with Sandia National Labs, and the other labs, on this effort is a huge strength and provides benefits for all.”

To support the advancement of the next generation of leaders in QIS, the Exchange Workshop included a series of Lightning Talks and poster sessions by Ph.D. students from UNM, many of whom are working on collaborative projects between UNM and Sandia.

 “We all learned about the great breadth of the diverse research ongoing at these institutions. We are all excited to move forward to realize QNM’s potential,” said UNM’s Center for Quantum Information and Control (CQuIC) Director Ivan Deutsch.

Three pillars for collaboration were established during the Exchange Workshop, which will help advance the efforts of the QNM-I: attracting top postdoctoral candidates, student mentorship, and staff/faculty loan sharing.

Of the first pillar, Sandia’s head of the Quantum Computer Science Department, Tzvetan S. Metodi, said that in order to attract top candidates, QNM-I will create “prestigious postdoctoral fellowship programs and postdoctoral positions with the opportunity to collaborate across the two institutions.” This effort, he says, “will be critical to attracting top postdoctoral candidates that will help us meet our goals for both Mission Research and Fundamental Research."

An example of this is the creation of the prestigious Gil Herrera Foundational Postdoctoral Fellowship in Quantum Information Science at Sandia, which encourages both high-quality research in broad areas from algorithms and applications to experimental design and discovery, as well as academic collaborations from successful candidates.

The second pillar of student mentorship will support both institutions in building a stronger partnership that provides the resources necessary to mentor and provide funding for undergraduate and graduate scientists.

One of the presentations at the Exchange Workshop highlighted the new MOU between UNM and Sandia which will allow for more opportunities for joint appointments between the two institutions. Together, this increase in resource and knowledge sharing will help advance QNM-I’s third pillar of staff and faculty loan sharing.

“The research collaborations in areas of quantum computing, information, and materials align well with the strengths of both institutions," said Basil Hassan, Sandia’s deputy chief research officer. "These collaborative interactions will allow us to conduct transformational research that will produce a talent pipeline of quantum scientists and engineers and have a profound impact on many Sandia mission areas.”