U of C turbocharges quantum computing quest

Crain's Chicago Business

The University of Chicago is doubling down on its investment in quantum computing research in hopes of putting itself and Chicago at the forefront of the next big innovation in technology.

It plans to break ground next year on a building larger than the Eckhardt Research Center, a cutting-edge facility that cost $300 million when it was built in 2015. U of C also aims to double the quantum faculty of about 20 over the next decade.

“We are at capacity,” says Juan de Pablo, vice president for national laboratories, science strategy, innovation and global initiatives. “We have resources to recruit more people. We need more space. We need a new building. We need it fast.”

He won't say how much it will cost. “The plan is almost done. We still need some of the money, but it’s looking very positive.”

U of C entered the global race to use quantum physics to reinvent computing a decade ago. The idea is to create machines that can handle exponentially larger amounts of data faster and more securely than we can now—making it possible to more accurately simulate and understand the most complicated phenomena, from cancer to global warming.

U of C’s aim is “for the city of Chicago to become the capital of the world for quantum,” de Pablo says.

It’s a stretch goal that would boost U of C’s fortunes, both in prestige and, potentially, revenue from innovation and research. It also could create companies, jobs and wealth seen in places such as Silicon Valley and Boston, where other technologies took root.

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