In 2016, the National Science Foundation (NSF) unveiled a set of "Big Ideas," 10 bold, long-term research and process ideas that identify areas for future investment at the frontiers of science and engineering (see https://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/big_ideas/index.jsp). The Big Ideas represent unique opportunities to position our Nation at the cutting edge of global science and engineering leadership by bringing together diverse disciplinary perspectives to support convergence research. As such, when responding to this solicitation, even though proposals must be submitted to the Directorate for Mathematical & Physical Sciences/Office of Multidisciplinary Activities (MPS/OMA), once received, the proposals will be managed by a cross-disciplinary team of NSF Program Directors.
One of these ideas was ‘Quantum Leap’ – exploiting the quantum properties to produce the next-generation quantum-enabled science and technology for sensing, information processing, communicating and computing. NSF has funded a range of programs in this area. The importance of this area has been recognized more broadly. On December 21, 2018 the National Quantum Initiative Act (https://www.congress.gov/115/plaws/publ368/PLAW-115publ368.pdf) was signed into law. The purpose of this act was in ensure the continued leadership of the United States in quantum information science and its technology applications. This provided a coordinated Federal program to accelerate research in this area. A framework for this can in found in the Quantum Frontiers report: https://www.quantum.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/QuantumFrontiers.pdf
The Quantum Interconnect Challenges for Transformational Advances in Quantum Systems (QuIC - TAQS) program is designed to support interdisciplinary teams that will explore highly innovative, original, and potentially transformative ideas for developing and applying quantum science, quantum computing, and quantum engineering in the specific area of quantum interconnects. Quantum interconnects are an integral part of all aspects of quantum information science. Proposals should have the potential to deliver new concepts, new platforms, and/or new approaches that will implement the transfer of quantum states efficiently across platforms and over large length scales. Progress in the area of quantum interconnects will enable breakthroughs in quantum sensing, quantum communications, quantum simulations, and quantum computing systems. This Quantum Interconnect Challenges solicitation will support the process of translating such ideas into reality.
This solicitation calls for proposals focused on interdisciplinary research that enhances the development of quantum interconnects (QuIC) that would allow the transfer of quantum states between different physical states and/or different physical systems. Proposals must articulate how the project leverages and/or promotes advances in quantum interconnects. Proposals should be innovative and must focus on quantum functionality and must result in experimental demonstrations and/or transformative advances towards quantum systems and/or proof-of-concept validations. Competitive proposals will come from an interdisciplinary research team led by at least three investigators who collectively contribute synergistic expertise from expertise from a subset of the following domains: engineering, mathematics, computational science, computer/information science, physical, chemical, biological, material science. Proposals will be judged on how likely the integrated effort is to lead to transformative advances in quantum interconnection.