The National Science Foundation has announced a $50 million investment to advance the work of 10 multidisciplinary research teams using either quantum computing technology or artificial intelligence to tackle problems ranging from climate change to biothreats.

The funding comes in phase-two awards as part of NSF’s “Convergence Accelerator” program, launched in 2019 to address national-scale societal challenges that cannot be solved by a single discipline, but instead require merging ideas, approaches, and technologies across a diverse range of sectors, disciplines, and experts.

The 10 teams receiving new funding will advance from a pool of 29 teams who received $27 million in 2020 to develop research concepts in the first phase of the program.

The focus in phase two will be on developing practical applications. Moving forward to this next stage are four teams working with quantum technologies and six using artificial intelligence. Among the projects:

  • A team based at the University of Washington is addressing quantum computing scalability by innovating a chip-scale, multi-beam optical control system that empowers cold-atom quantum computing with thousands of qubits.
  • Led by University of Maryland, a team is developing hardware to transform the Internet into a “quantum Internet,” connecting a rapidly expanding network of quantum computers.
  • A team based at Stony Brook University is developing an AI-enabled solution for resilient networked microgrids.
  • Led by the University of California, San Diego, a team is building a platform to enhance public sector collaboration to proactively reduce the risk of devastating megafires.

“A convergence approach is essential to solving large-scale societal challenges,” said Douglas Maughan, head of the NSF Convergence Accelerator program. “With a three-year research model, we expect our phase-two teams to provide high-impact deliverables.”