Dublin, Ireland –25 July, 2022: A combined investment of €3 million in the CoQREATE (Convergent Quantum REsearch Alliance in TElecommunications) US-Ireland R&D Partnership has been announced to investigate technologies that will form the foundations of a quantum internet. The investment represents a joint research and development partnership between the United States of America (USA), Republic of Ireland (RoI) and Northern Ireland (NI), spanning four large Research Centres and will fund at least ten research positions.

With the rapid development of quantum computers, there is a need to develop a quantum internet to provide connectivity between quantum computers over short and long distances. Quantum computers have the potential to perform many computing tasks faster than classical computers, in some cases solving problems that are impossible for classical computers to solve with today’s computing power. This includes solving problems in a wide range of technologies such as higher energy density batteries and better carbon capture materials that will be valuable tools to address climate change.

Linking quantum computers together over a quantum internet will enable distributed quantum computing with even greater computational power compared to individual quantum computers. As an integral part of future communications, this quantum internet will need to co-exist and interoperate with current or ‘classical’ networks that we use today. The CoQREATE project creates a unique multi-national collaborative environment that brings together expertise across the emerging quantum technologies and classical networking technologies.

Prof Saikat Guha, PhD Director of the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center for Quantum Networks (CQN) in the USA, commented: “The NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC), Center for Quantum Networks (CQN), led by the University of Arizona, is proud to lead this partnership between CQN – a center focused on developing technologies to enable the quantum internet, the Ireland-based CONNECT Center focused on future networks broadly, and the Northern Ireland based  QTeQ focused on quantum algorithms and machine learning, to enable foundational research on coexistence and control of quantum and classical networks. CoQREATE research will range from devices, components and novel photonic packaging techniques to network algorithms and protocols. Unique to this Center-to-Center (C2C) program will be research on socio-technical convergence to bring a broader social perspective to the program.”

Prof Dan Kilper, Director of the CONNECT SFI Research Centre, and Professor of Future Communication Networks at Trinity College Dublin, welcomed the announcement saying: “CQN and QTeQ are global leaders in pioneering the quantum internet and this project enables  our CONNECT researchers in Ireland, working at the forefront of classical internet technologies, to begin to shape how the quantum and classical networks will come together. It will also accelerate the transition of quantum technologies from basic science to engineered systems. And it’s especially important for us that the project considers the broader societal dimensions of these technologies to help build an inclusive and human centred foundation for the quantum internet.”

Dr Ciarán Seoighe, Deputy Director General of Science Foundation Ireland welcomed the announcement, saying: “I am delighted to congratulate the recipients of this award. This work seeks to address key questions in the area of telecommunication systems and the integration of network technologies and applications. I look forward to learning of its progress as it brings together different research communities to help realise the potential for quantum computing and transformative advances in science, industry, economy and society.”

Trevor Cooper, Director of Higher Education in the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy which is co-funding the project, said: “The US-Ireland R&D Partnership is a highly valued element of the Department’s suite of research initiatives, allowing researchers in Northern Ireland to partner with counterparts in the Republic of Ireland and the United States to access the gold standard international peer review operated by the US National Science Foundation. This latest project is strategically important in that it will address the pressing need to develop a quantum internet which can provide true quantum connectivity between computers over distances that will enable a wide range of distributed computing and sensing applications. There is a substantial demand for the design and demonstration of such platforms, so the long-term commercial potential of this research is highly significant.”

Prof Ryan Camacho, PhD, Brigham Young University, who will lead the research programme for the NSF-ERC Center for Quantum Networks (CQN), said: “When I visited the CONNECT Center in Dublin earlier this year it was immediately clear that we needed to collaborate. I’m quite impressed with their capabilities, including classical networking, photonic packaging and other technologies that will add tremendous value to our network testbeds.  These will be critical for future quantum networks, and I look forward to working with our colleagues in Ireland and Northern Ireland.”   

Prof Mauro Paternostro, Head of the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queens University Belfast said: "CoQREATE will build the research framework for the development of crucial building blocks and infrastructures for a future quantum internet. I am delighted to be part of this major initiative, through my Quantum Technology group (QTeQ) and the School of Mathematics and Physics, which will put Queen's University Belfast right at the centre of a groundbreaking effort to revolutionise the way we communicate and process information. QTeQ has a decade-long track record of expertise in the development of the framework for quantum technologies and the identification of the resources enabling paramount goals such as quantum-enhanced communication. Through the generous funding of the US-Ireland R&D programme, CoQREATE will offer the chance to collaborate with leading groups in Ireland and the US towards an ambitious goal of enormous societal impact."