DARPA announces QuIST Program BAA

Program seeks innovative research in underlying IT and in scalable component technology for quantum information systems

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced SOL BAA01-11, a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for the Quantum Information Science and Technology (QuIST) program. The goal of the QuIST program is to demonstrate advances required for practical use of quantum logic and information in computing, communications, and other applications. Specific areas of interest include:

  1. fault-tolerant algorithms and architectures;
  2. formulation of new algorithms and protocols for ultra-secure communications, ultra-precise metrology, information-bandwidth enhancements;
  3. the limits of quantum computation for speedups over classical computation, and
  4. computational applications for which quantum computation offers significant advantage over known classical equivalents.
Concurrently with these fundamental advances, QuIST seeks to develop the component technology for quantum computing and secure quantum communication including the development of robust megahertz rate single photon sources and detectors, practical implementations of single and multiple quantum bit logic gates, quantum memory, and systems level constructs such as quantum repeaters. The program is aimed at developing theory, hardware, and integrated demonstrations that may include scalable assemblies of quantum logic and memory, quantum teleportation-based communication, ultra-precise clock synchronization, communication of quantum information over large distances, and network backbones based on coherent optical and quantum techniques.

Ideas sought in assorted technical areas
QuIST seeks innovative research both in underlying information technology and in scalable component technology for quantum information systems. The goal is to demonstrate the potential for practical use of quantum effects in communication and computation. DARPA is primarily interested in projects that offer simultaneous advances in underlying ideas, algorithms, architectures, and scalable components.

Underlying Information Technology seeks advances in algorithms, protocols, and their implementations that will lead to practical quantum computing and communication. In support of these goals QuIST will concentrate on the following core areas of underlying quantum information science and technology: (1) Quantum error correction and fault tolerance techniques that reduce system overheads while raising error thresholds; (2) Coherent optical and quantum techniques for provable security of network backbones; (3) Tools for developing, simulating, and validating quantum algorithms and protocols; (4) Limits of quantum computation and communication for improvements over classical techniques; (5) New algorithms and protocols for computation and communication; (6) Optimization techniques and tools for implementing algorithms within the achievable decoherence and entanglement constraints of specific devices and architectures; (7) Tools for modeling and engineering solid-state and other scalable components of quantum information systems; (8) New applications of quantum information science and technology.

The Scalable Quantum Component Technology part of the QuIST program seeks efforts that will demonstrate quantum technology of increasing complexity by developing and integrating the components necessary for these demonstrations. These technology development efforts should be integrated with the appropriate theoretical and experimental underpinnings as appropriate. DARPA seeks to fund projects that will focus on the appropriate theory, component development and integration to carry out a successful demonstration in one or more of these areas, or in other areas of convincingly clear interest to the DoD: (1) Implementations of quantum bits (qubits) using two-level quantum systems that can ultimately scale to large numbers of qubits (>1000); (2) Demonstrations of single qubit and multiple qubit gates compatible with scalable qubit implementations; (3) Demonstrations of error control at high error rates on scalable qubit implementation; (4)Demonstrations of quantum security protocols at high data rates (Megabits/second or higher); (5) Qubit memories compatible with scalable qubit implementations; (6) Robust sources and detectors for polarized single photons; (7) Sources for entangled Einstein, Podelsky, Rosen (EPR) pairs; (8) Network repeaters for qubits.

Scope of the QuIST Program
The QuIST program is a 5-year program with a total budget of about $100M. Research funded under this BAA will be executed over FY01-05. Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches and techniques that lead to or enable revolutionary advances in the state-of-the-art. Proposals are not limited to the specific technical topic areas listed above and alternative visions will be considered. However, proposals should be for research that substantially contributes towards the specific interests of DARPA as stated in the PIP. Research should result in prototype hardware and/or software demonstrating integrated concepts and approaches. Specifically excluded is research that primarily results in evolutionary improvement to the existing state of practice or focuses on a specific system or solution. Integrated solution sets embodying significant technological advances are strongly encouraged over narrowly defined research endeavors. DARPA encourages proposals involving other research groups, industrial cooperation, or cost sharing.

DARPA is sponsoring a team-forming workshop on Quantum Information Science and Technology. This workshop will be held October 23-24 at the Greenbelt Marriott Hotel in Greenbelt, Maryland. Attendance at the workshop is optional, but is recommended. For workshop details, including registration and abstract submission, visit the QuIST web site at www.sainc.com/conference/View/index.asp?MeetingID=131.

What needs to be prepared for this BAA?
DARPA's Information Technology Office (DARPA/ITO) and Defense Sciences Office (DARPA/DSO) require completion of a BAA Cover Sheet Submission for each Abstract and Proposal, by accessing the URL below: www.dyncorp-is.com/BAA/index.asp?BAAid=01-11. After finalizing the BAA Cover Sheet Submission, you must submit the BAA Confirmation Sheet that will automatically appear on the web page. You are responsible for printing the BAA Confirmation Sheet and submitting it attached to the "original" and each designated number of copies. The Confirmation Sheet should be the first page of your Abstract or Proposal. Failure to comply with these submission procedures may result in the submission not being evaluated. Detailed information and instructions are outlined within the Proposer Information Pamphlet (PIP).

To minimize unnecessary effort in proposal preparation and review, you are strongly encouraged to submit brief proposal abstracts in advance of full proposals. An original and 4 copies of the proposal abstract and 7 electronic copies (i.e., 7 separate disks) of the abstract (in Microsoft Word '97 for IBM-compatible, PDF, Postscript, or ASCII format each on a 3.5-inch floppy disk or a 100 MB Iomega Zip disk) should be submitted. Each disk must be clearly labeled with BAA 01-11, your organization, proposal title (short title recommended) and Copy ___ of 7. The proposal abstract (original and designated number of hard and electronic copies) must be submitted to DARPA, ATTN: BAA 01-11, 3701 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203-1714, in time to reach DARPA by 4:00 PM (ET) Wednesday, November 15, 2000, to guarantee review.

Upon review, DARPA will make a recommendation to offerors either encouraging or discouraging submission of full proposals. DARPA will attempt to review proposal abstracts within 30 days after receipt and will make a recommendation encouraging or discouraging formal proposal submissions. Proposal abstracts will be reviewed as they are received. Early submissions are strongly encouraged. Regardless of the recommendation, the decision to propose is your responsibility. All submitted proposals will be fully reviewed, regardless of the disposition of the proposal abstract.

Proposal format outlined
You must submit an original and 4 copies of the full proposal and 7 electronic copies (i.e., 7 separate disks) of the full proposal (in Microsoft Word '97 for IBM-compatible, PDF, Postscript, or ASCII format each on a 3.5-inch floppy disk or a 100 MB Iomega Zip disk) should be submitted. Each disk must be clearly labeled with BAA 01-11, your organization, proposal title (short title recommended) and Copy ___ of 7. The full proposal (original and designated number of hard and electronic copies) must be submitted in time to reach DARPA by 4:00 PM (ET) Monday, January 22, 2001, in order to guarantee review. You must obtain the BAA 01-11 Proposer Information Pamphlet (PIP), which provides further information on the areas of interest, submission, evaluation, funding processes, proposal abstracts, and full proposal formats. This pamphlet may be obtained by fax or electronic mail; send request to the administrative contact address given below, or at URL address www.darpa.mil/ito/Solicitations.html. Proposals not meeting the format described in the pamphlet may not be reviewed.

How will these proposals be evaluated?
Proposals will be evaluated using the following criteria, which are listed, in descending order of relative importance:

  1. Overall Scientific and Technical Merit: The overall scientific and technical merit must be clearly identifiable. The technical concept should be clearly defined and developed. Emphasis should be placed on the technical value of the development and experimentation approach. Proposed efforts should apply new or existing technology in a new way such as is advantageous to the objectives;
  2. Potential Contribution and Relevance to DARPA Mission: you must clearly address how the proposed effort will meet the goals of the program;
  3. Your Capabilities and Related Experience: The qualifications, capabilities, and demonstrated achievements of the proposed principals and other key personnel for the primary and subcontractor organizations must be clearly shown;
  4. Plans and Capability to Accomplish Technology Transition: you should clearly indicate how successful scientific developments from the proposed research program would potentially enable significant improvements in technologies of interest to the Department of Defense. A description of the steps likely to be required to create a demonstrable technological benefit deriving from the research results should be clearly indicated, whether or not such a demonstration is actually within the scope of the proposed research program. This description should indicate the mechanisms and strategies for transferring results of the research program to appropriate communities for further development, testing, and application;
  5. Cost Realism: The overall estimated cost to accomplish the effort should be clearly shown as well as the substantiation of the costs for the technical complexity described.
All administrative correspondence and questions on this solicitation, including requests for information on how to submit a proposal abstract or proposal to this BAA, must be received at one of the administrative addresses below by 4:00 PM (ET) Tuesday, January 16, 2001, to ensure processing; e-mail or fax is preferred. DARPA intends to use electronic mail and fax for some of the correspondence regarding BAA 01-11. Proposals and proposal abstracts must not be submitted by fax or e-mail; any so sent will be disregarded. The administrative addresses for this BAA are: by fax to 703-522-7161 and addressed to DARPA, BAA 01-11; by e-mail to baa01-11@darpa.mil; Electronic File Retrieval: www.darpa.mil/ito/Solicitations.html; and by surface mail to DARPA, ATTN: BAA 01-11,3701 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22203-1714.

Edited by Bob Arguero, Managing Editor, GovCon