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UT News

New Advanced Quantum Science Institute Will Bridge Basic Research and Applied Science

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Illustration showing a material made of atom-thin layers that allow control of individual photons of light

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin is boosting its commitment to research and education in quantum science and engineering by establishing the Texas Quantum Institute. This expanded investment reflects the University’s recognition of the vast potential that quantum science and engineering hold to benefit society through new approaches to computing, energy-efficient electronics, secure communications, ultrasensitive sensors for medical diagnostics, semiconductor quality control and observing climate processes from space.

“Some of the most exciting technological advances of the next few decades will come from quantum research,” said Dan Jaffe, vice president for research. “Thanks to our already-thriving quantum ecosystem on campus and Austin’s status as a vibrant incubator of innovative technologies, UT is the ideal place for world-changing quantum-related discoveries to be made that lead to much-needed applications for energy, medicine, the environment and computing.”

Quantum research delves into an area of science and engineering where peculiar phenomena still mysterious to many physicists meet vast potential for new advances. These unusual phenomena occur at vanishingly tiny and mindbogglingly rapid scales, made possible with new materials and highly advanced equipment.

The new institute will bring together more than 30 researchers and provide postdoctoral fellowships, an interdisciplinary seed grant program, workshops, and construction of a new lab for advanced quantum and semiconductor measurements. The institute will be co-directed by Elaine Li, the Jack S. Josey Welch Foundation Science Chair and professor in the Department of Physics, and Xiuling Li, a Temple Foundation Endowed Professor in the Chandra Family Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a fellow of the Dow Professorship in the Department of Chemistry.

Portraits of a scientist and an engineer
Elaine Li (left) and Xiuling Li will co-direct the new Texas Quantum Institute.

“Here at UT, we have a strong track record in designing algorithms for quantum computers, developing materials with unprecedented properties, inventing advanced measurement tools and building quantum systems,” Elaine Li said. “The new institute will enable us to further develop these areas and cultivate collaborations with other academic institutes, as well as industry and national labs.”

With dozens of core research faculty members who study related topics, UT has already earned an international reputation for groundbreaking quantum advances. These include launching the subfield of “Twistronics,” developing tests for quantum supremacy in computing, and inventing a new imaging technique called microwave impedance microscopy.

“By uniting researchers under a campuswide umbrella organization, the institute will enhance the visibility and impact of quantum research both within the academic community and beyond,” Xiuling Li said. “I am excited that with the increased visibility, we can attract top talent, foster collaborations with industry partners, and ultimately accelerate the translation of quantum discoveries into real-world applications.”

World-class infrastructure — such as the Texas Advanced Computing Center, home of the fastest academic supercomputer in the U.S.; the Microelectronics Research Center, the flagship semiconductor materials and devices research center; the Texas Materials Institute, a premier hub for materials research; and the Texas Institute for Electronics, which develops innovative semiconductor solutions through advanced packaging — will enable UT to hit the ground running in its expanded quantum research initiative.

“The University of Texas at Austin’s launch of the Texas Quantum Institute is a landmark moment for the University, the quantum industry and the state of Texas,” said Scott Faris, CEO of Infleqtion, a global quantum technologies company already partnering with UT on quantum manufacturing. “This bold initiative will position Texas as a leader in the development of quantum technology and the quantum economy. We are incredibly excited to partner with UT Austin on groundbreaking research and moving quantum to the forefront of the technology industry.”

Unveiled during what the University has declared the Year of AI, the new institute’s faculty members are not only physicists, chemists and chemical engineers but also leading computer scientists and electrical and computer engineers, positioned to forge partnerships with industry and national labs, drive quantum innovations through interdisciplinary collaborations, and unlock the potential of future quantum AI systems for the betterment of society.