Logo: University of Southern California

Operational Quantum Computing Center Established at USC

The new USC-Lockheed Martin Quantum Computing Center will utilize the world’s first commercial, operational quantum computer from D-WAVE
Robert Perkins
October 29, 2011 —

D-WAVE President Vern Brownell, Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos,
Lockheed-Martin CTO Ray Johnson and ISI Executive Director
Herb Schorr.
Continuing on its history of pioneering advances in high-performance computing and the internet, USC is now exploring the future of quantum computing.

USC’s new quantum computing center, located at its Information Science Institute campus in Marina del Rey, now houses D-Wave’s revolutionary quantum computer, which was recently purchased by Lockheed Martin. USC and Lockheed Martin will work together in the just formed USC- Lockheed Martin Quantum Computing Center to explore the potential of the cutting-edge quantum computing technology. 

“The USC Lockheed Martin Quantum Computing Center will open new windows in the fascinating world of quantum computing,” said USC Engineering Dean Yannis C. Yortsos. “It will help advance our understanding of the potential of this new technology and to provide a new computing paradigm in the quest for faster and more secure computing.”  
Prof. Daniel Lidar with Dean Yortsos.
The D-Wave quantum computer has 128 quantum bits (called “qubits”), which have the capability of encoding the two digits of one and zero at the same time – as opposed to traditional bits, which can encode distinctly either a one or a zero. This property, called “superposition,” along with the ability of quantum states to "tunnel" through energy barriers, will help the present D-WAVE device to perform optimization calculations much faster (and potentially exponentially faster) than traditional computers.
The facility keeps the D-Wave hardware at near absolute zero temperatures and contains powerful shielding to block out electromagnetic interference.
“It's one of the coldest and most magnetically shielded places on earth,” said Daniel Lidar, professor of Electrical Engineering at the Viterbi School and scientific director of the new center. Absolute zero is the temperature at which entropy stops, eliminating thermal energy. It is defined as 0° Kelvin, or -273.15° Celsius. The USC facility operates at 20 microKelvin. The multi-million dollar facility is state of the art and, most importantly, easily upgradable. Though it currently houses a 128-qubit D-Wave quantum processor, that piece of hardware can be easily replaced as more advanced processors become available.
This center will provide the necessary infrastructure to support future generations of quantum chips, positioning the school and its partners at the forefront of quantum computing research.