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Harvard Partners with Amazon to Advance Quantum Science Research

The Harvard Office of Technology Development is located in the Smith Campus Center.
The Harvard Office of Technology Development is located in the Smith Campus Center. By Addison Y. Liu
By Ryan H. Doan-Nguyen, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard launched a three-year research partnership with Amazon Web Services, the school announced in press release from its Office of Technology Development on Monday.

The partnership aims to promote research into quantum networking — a method of sending and receiving digital information — at the Harvard Quantum Initiative, according to the press release. It will increase funding for faculty-led projects and allow more students to get involved in research efforts.

“The collaborative initiative between AWS and Harvard will harness top research talent to explore quantum networking today and establish a framework to develop the quantum workforce of the future,” Antia Lamas-Linares, quantum networking lead at AWS, wrote in the press release.

Four faculty members — HQI Co-directors Evelyn L. Hu and Mikhail D. Lukin, Electrical Engineering professor Marko Lončar, and Chemistry professor Hongkun Park — will head the research projects included in the alliance with AWS.

Lukin told the Harvard Gazette, a University-run publication, that he believes Boston “plays a leading role” in quantum network research thanks to collaboration between academic institutions like Harvard and MIT and corporate partners.

“Initiatives of this kind — bridging cutting-edge academic research and leading industry partners — are critical to the emergent quantum industry and quantum ecosystem in the U.S. as a whole and in the Boston area specifically,” he said.

The emerging field of quantum networking holds immense promise in tackling “challenges of growing importance to our world, such as secure communication and powerful quantum computing clusters,” said Lamas-Linares, who will lead the Harvard-Amazon alliance.

The partnership follows Amazon’s announcement in June of its new AWS Center for Quantum Networking, which targets pressing scientific and engineering challenges through developing new quantum hardware, software, and applications.

In an increasingly digital world rife with threats to privacy and security, quantum networking may help enable secure communication and anonymity.

“Yet, for those aspirations to be realized, physicists, engineers, and materials scientists must overcome challenges to store, manipulate, repeat, and transmit quantum information over long distances,” the press release reads.

“By working together, academia and industry can accelerate discovery and technological progress,” Harvard Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 wrote in the press release. “Through this alliance with AWS, we will bring scientific scholarship and education to bear on some of the most exciting frontiers in quantum science.”

— Staff writer Ryan H. Doan-Nguyen can be reached at ryan.doannguyen@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryandoannguyen.

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