Underground Lab at Pitt to Take Computing into the Future

Oct 31, 2012

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Stretching beyond the limits of traditional computing is the ultimate goal of researchers using new facilities at the University of Pittsburgh. A set of isolated laboratories will allow them to look at materials that show promise for quantum computing.

“That requires facilities in which they’re able to work with samples at temperatures very close to absolute zero and to work with samples in an environment where they can be shielded from electrical fields, vibrations, and acoustical disturbance,” said John Cooper, dean of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

The labs were built about four feet lower than the previous basement floor into solid rock. The goal is to block out all disturbances. The facilities also include pits in which liquid helium refrigerators can be placed to regulate temperatures.

“The facilities are, technically, the best I’m aware of in the nation,” said Cooper, “I don’t know anywhere else in the United States that’s going to be able to accommodate six of these setups at once.”

In the short term, the facilities are expected to boost research dollars to Pitt and help attract some of the top scientific minds to this area. In the long-term, Cooper said companies will base technologies on new science discovered in labs like these, the intention is to have Pitt and this region at the center of development.

The laboratories were built, in part, with funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which has funneled funds from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into research and technology initiatives across the country.