Recent years have seen a push toward quantum-enabled systems for a variety of computing, communications, and sensing applications. Quantum systems typically connect a core where quantum phenomena occur (e.g., a trapped atom/ion) with systems of detectors, signal sources, and controlling elements. While quantum effects and some early applications have been demonstrated, to date most of this work has been done on large optical tables and the technologies are not yet miniaturized and integrated. As the technology matures, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and other agencies seek to prepare for the challenges and opportunities quantum-enabled systems may bring.
Much of the current expertise in materials and components relevant to quantum technologies, such as single-photon detectors, is found outside the United States, raising potential supply chain concerns. The importance of quantum-enabled systems to critical DoD applications argues for the development of ensured domestic sources of materials, manufacturing capabilities, and expertise. To explore these issues, the Workshop on Domestic Manufacturing Capabilities for Critical DoD Applications: Emerging Needs in Quantum-Enabled Systems was organized to address current technology trends and the collective needs and concerns of the DoD stakeholder materials and manufacturing community.
This workshop is part of a series of workshops organized by the National Academies Standing Committee on Defense Materials, Manufacturing, and Infrastructure to address issues regarding materials, manufacturing, and infrastructural activities relevant to military personnel, platforms, and facilities, as well as the manufacturing and industrial base for both the military and commercial sector (see
Appendix A, “Statement of Task”). Addressing these issues is important to maintaining U.S. technological superiority; creating energy-efficient, high-performance, and sustainable platforms; ensuring a safe, healthy, and energy-efficient infrastructure; securing the safety of facilities and ports; and supporting the processes that provide our defense materials, parts, and products. Although the workshops assess these issues from a defense perspective, informed approaches in these areas will also support the nation’s broader goals related to technological leadership, safety, infrastructure, and a robust manufacturing sector.
The workshop was held on March 19-20, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (see Appendix B, “Workshop Agenda”). Hosted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the event brought together approximately 70 speakers and attendees representing quantum experts, materials experts, and manufacturing experts from industry, academia, and government agencies (see Appendix C, “Workshop Attendee List,” and Appendix D, “Biographical Information”). Haydn Wadley, University of Virginia, served as workshop chair.
In his welcoming remarks, Wadley outlined the workshop’s goal of initiating a shared discussion with quantum, materials, and manufacturing experts on the subject of quantum-enabled devices, including what these devices will look like, what their applications could be, and how they could be made at scale. Recognizing the significant challenges of working with quantum technology, Wadley underscored the need to better understand the complexities inherent to quantum phenomena and applications in order to make progress and achieve new discoveries. Quantum devices, quantum communications, and quantum sensors will be possible only with the right materials and quality manufacturing, but designing new devices, possibly with brand-new materials, and making them at scale will be very challenging. Wadley described the workshop as a working meeting intended to dive deeply into the emerging needs of quantum-enabled systems, with a particular focus on the domestic materials and manufacturing processes that will be required to fulfill those needs.
The 2-day workshop was organized around three main topics: quantum-enabled computing systems, quantum communications and networks, and quantum sensing opportunities. The workshop was unclassified and open to the public. This report offers a condensed summary of the proceedings based on recordings, slides, and transcripts from the workshop.