DOE to Provide $12M for Research on 5G and Quantum Networking

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March 19, 2021 — Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced plans to provide up to $12 million for basic research on advanced 5G and quantum networking. Our modern life has been transformed by wireless and cellular networks, creating a world where humans all over the globe can communicate with each other instantaneously. Research on advanced wireless networks enabling this connectivity can help us apply these same benefits to our scientific facilities, increasing mobility and agility and paving the way to developing new sensing instrumentation to collect data in remote, relatively inaccessible locations such as rural communities or other areas with limited network access.

“The vast quantities of data generated by today’s scientific facilities, combined with growing computational power, have made high-speed, high-throughput networking an increasing vital element of the scientific enterprise,” said Dr. Steve Binkley, acting director of DOE’s Office of Science.  “Nearly every aspect of modern life is impacted by both computing and networks, and this research will help us take advantage of emerging 5G capabilities in the nation’s telecommunications network, while laying some of the very early groundwork for the development of future quantum networks.”

The two efforts launched by DOE today are aimed at harnessing current and future networking capabilities to build on DOE’s 40-plus-year investments in the Energy Science Network (ESnet), a world-class research network connecting all DOE National Laboratories and scientific user facilities. The goal is to use advanced networking to accelerate progress in science and technology.

Under this announcement, up to $6 million will be devoted to transforming or enhancing scientific research by using advanced 5G wireless networking technologies to build the tools, applications, and infrastructure needed to explore new scientific discoveries. Along with field experiments and remote laboratories, every aspect of DOE’s science research will be affected by 5G, which has the potential to completely renovate the nation’s information infrastructure. Applications for the 5G awards will be open to DOE laboratories.

An additional $6 million will be allocated to advance understanding of how quantum entanglement, a state in which the behavior of two different particles are linked, operates in quantum networks, to aid in the development of future quantum networks. The combination of quantum computing and quantum networks are crucial to the DOE’s mission to provide scientists with the state-of-the-art computational capabilities. Quantum networks have shown potential in applications like disaster preparedness modeling, which could decrease power outages from climate-related weather events. This research will help to ensure U.S. global competitiveness with quantum research taking place in other countries. Applications for quantum networking awards will be open to universities and nonprofit institutions as well DOE laboratories.

“The Department of Energy and America’s national laboratories are the international gold standard when it comes to innovation and research, and I am glad to see the Department providing this investment into research on advanced 5G and quantum networking – areas that have the potential to change the nature of our nation’s telecommunications infrastructure,” said U.S. Representative Bill Foster. “Computing power and high speed networking are vital tools for our scientists as they carry out their work and make American science stronger.”

The 5G networking announcement builds on a March 2020 workshop, “5G Enabled Energy Innovation,” sponsored by the Office of Science, which explored the challenges and opportunities offered by 5G and emerging advanced wireless technologies for basic research, development, and integration into scientific user facility operations.  The quantum entanglement announcement continues early-stage research on quantum networking begun with the 2020 national laboratory funding opportunity, “Transparent Optical Networks for Distributed Science.”  Leadership in both high-performance computing and advanced networking is integral to the Department’s mission in basic science, in which sophisticated computing and networking resources play an increasingly critical role.

Total planned funding for the two initiatives is $12 million in Fiscal Year 2021 dollars for awards of three years in duration. Awards will be selected based on peer review.

The full text of the two Funding Opportunity Announcements can be found on the funding opportunities page of the Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research within DOE’s Office of Science.