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UMN-led Team Wins $1.4 Million Keck Foundation Grant to Study Quantum Computing

The W. M. Keck Foundation granted a $1.4 million grant to a team led by the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to research a novel mechanism that blends quantum physics and biology. If the study is successful, it might result in a significant advance in the field of quantum computing.

The initiative is one of two applications the University of Minnesota makes to the Keck Foundation each year, and it marks the institution's first funding of this sort in 20 years.

The potential for quantum computers to solve very difficult tasks at previously unheard-of speeds. They have uses in supply chain optimization, cryptography, information security, and maybe even the development of novel materials and medicines in the future.

The fact that the information held in quantum bits—the fundamental units of quantum computation—is frequently transient poses one of the largest hurdles for scientists. Although early-stage prototype quantum computers do exist, it is currently unable to solve large practical issues because of how rapidly they lose the information they hold.

Combining semiconductors with superconductors to create stable states known as Majorana modes is one method researchers have looked at to try and make quantum devices more stable, but this method has proven difficult and so far fruitless because it calls for extremely high-purity semiconductors. The project's principal investigator, Associate Professor Vlad Pribiag of the University of Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy, has developed a fresh concept that could produce stable Majorana quantum structures.

With the use of magnetic nanoparticles, superconductors, and recent developments in DNA nanoassembly, Pribiag has developed a method for detecting Majoranas, hypothetical particles that may be essential for safeguarding quantum information and building robust quantum devices.

This is a fundamentally different approach to thinking about quantum devices, according to Pribiag. "When I learned about this DNA nano assembly method, I immediately felt it would solve the Majoranas and quantum gadget puzzle I had been working on. It is a true paradigm change in the industry and offers great promise for finding a means to secure quantum data so that we may create more sophisticated quantum machines to do these intricate tasks.

Three years will be spent on the research, which is named "Topological Quantum Architectures Through DNA Programmable Molecular Lithography." Professor Oleg Gang of Columbia University, whose lab will handle the DNA nano assembly portion of the study, and Pribiag are working on this project.

About the W. M. Keck Foundation

The late W. M. Keck, who founded the Superior Oil Company, created the W. M. Keck Foundation, which has its headquarters in Los Angeles. The Foundation primarily funds groundbreaking initiatives in the fields of science, engineering, and medicine. Additionally, the Foundation promotes undergraduate education and runs the Southern California Grant Program, which offers assistance to the Los Angeles neighborhood with a focus on children and kids. Visit the Keck Foundation website for further details.

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