$1.8 million National Science Foundation award establishes new NSF Center for Advanced Molecular Architectures for Quantum Information Science

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Prof. Anastassia Alexandrova

Led by Professor Anastassia Alexandrova, the new center’s research team will be working in a new branch of chemistry involving the creation of molecules that act as qubits.

Alexandrova will lead the team composed of Assistant Professor Justin Caram (Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCLA), Dean of Physical Sciences and Distinguished Professor Miguel Garcia-Garibay (Chemistry and Biochemistry, UCLA), Professor Eric Hudson (Physics and Astronomy, UCLA), and Professor Anna Krylov (Chemistry, University of Southern California).

A professor of physical chemistry, Alexandrova’s group focuses on computational and theoretical design and multi-scale description of new materials.

From UCLA Newsroom (by Holly Ober)

NSF-funded UCLA center to develop chemical qubits for quantum computing

The center, led by Anastassia Alexandrova, will break new ground in chemistry

The National Science Foundation has awarded UCLA $1.8 million over three years to establish the Center for Advanced Molecular Architectures for Quantum Information Science, to be led by chemistry professor Anastassia Alexandrova.

Alexandrova and her UCLA chemistry colleagues Justin Caram and Miguel Garcia-Garibay, UCLA physics professor Eric Hudson and USC chemist Anna Krylov will be working in an entirely new branch of chemistry involving the creation of molecules that act as qubits, the basic units of information in quantum computing. These designer molecules could enable substantially more flexible, scalable and practical quantum computing systems than those being explored today.

Traditional computer bits rely on the movements of electrons within silicon and can exist in one of two states, typically represented by 1 and 0. Quantum bits, or qubits, which take advantage of the strange behaviors materials have at atomic and subatomic scales, can exist in multiple states at the same time and so can store a much wider range of values, increasing a computer’s processing power far beyond the capabilities of conventional computers. However, creating qubits in sufficient quantities that are stable enough to function within a quantum computer system has been a challenge.

“We used to use atoms for this purpose, but an atom doesn’t hang alone in space. They naturally form molecules, so it’s a fragile architecture,” Alexandrova said. To address this, she and her colleagues have been begun developing new molecule fragments called quantum functional groups, which can be attached to molecules or surfaces to form qubits and to help lock these qubits’ quantum behavior into steady, predictable patterns. Quantum functional groups on molecules can be made and scaled to trillions of identical qubits that could form the architecture of enormous quantum computers, Alexandrova said.

At the new center, chemists, physicists and engineers will collaborate to refine and expand this repertoire of quantum functional groups while also exploring new alternatives for increasing the stability and scalability of qubits.

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.