02:33 GMT25 January 2021
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    Futuristic-sounding quantum technologies have raised the eyebrows of US lawmakers, but Pentagon advocates have argued that research into basic technologies such as quantum clocks and sensors will reap huge long-term benefits.

    The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) announced Monday its Office of Scientific Research had awarded 17 grants of roughly $75,000 each to support research on “quantum information science” at institutions around the globe. The one-year grants followed a three-day virtual pitch event in September that received three dozen entries.

    Prior to the event, Information Directorate Deputy Director Dr. Michael Hayduk, who oversees quantum research at the AFRL, said in a news release that the Air Force is “committed to building a quantum information science alliance of principal investigators across academia, industry, and the government to accelerate advancements in this emerging field.”

    The AFRL website explains that quantum information science “applies the best understanding of the sub-atomic world - quantum theory - to generate new knowledge and technologies.” In other words, the researchers aim to apply some of the unique properties of subatomic particles, such as quantum entanglement and superposition, to gather and process information in support of US military objectives. 

    According to C4ISRNET, the winning submissions included the application of quantum technologies to sensors for navigation in GPS-denial situations, an optical atomic clock and quantum computing solutions.

    With so much of the US military’s everyday functioning flowing through its vast network of communications and intelligence satellites, the Pentagon has been looking for ways to ensure its ability to continue functioning if those assets come under attack. The ostensible fear of an attack by enemy satellites or ground-based anti-satellite weapons has prompted creation of the US Space Force (USSF). Also part of the Department of the Air Force, the USSF has spearheaded the development of anti-jamming technology as well as offensive jamming capabilities.

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    Tags:
    grants, quantum physics, quantum computing, US Air Force Research Lab
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