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Business and Economy

Oklahoma Invests In Quantum Technology Research

University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences Dean David Wrobel, center, and OU Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr., right, present Norm Wilson with a replica of Lin Hall, home of the new Center for Quantum Research and Technology.
(Courtesy OU)
University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences Dean David Wrobel, center, and OU Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr., right, present Norm Wilson with a replica of Lin Hall, home of the new Center for Quantum Research and Technology.

The University of Oklahoma is researching a bewildering area of quantum physics that could generate billions of dollars worth of technology over the next decade. Journal Record editor Russell Ray and OU physics professor Alberto Marino discuss how "atomic entanglement" helps technology  -- and how other state entities are supporting OU's efforts. 

Full transcript:

Drew Hutchinson: You’re listening to the Business Intelligence Report, a weekly conversation about business news in Oklahoma. I’m Drew Hutchinson, and joining me is Russell Ray, editor of The Journal Record. The University of Oklahoma is positioning itself at the helm of what has been called the “second revolution in quantum physics.” Journal Record reporter Chip Minty wrote last week that OU is investing in research on technological developments that are expected to spur $80 billion in annual revenues over the next decade. And this is all taking place at OU’s new Center for Quantum Research and Technology. Russell, what should we know about this center? 

Russell Ray: Well, the center is committed to make significant advances in the field of quantum science and technology and to establish partnerships with the industry. OU has joined a new effort to harness and control quantum properties that scientists are only now beginning to fully understand. Officials say OU’s Center for Quantum Research and Technology will place OU at the forefront of this revolution, and there is tremendous potential for OU researchers to make a significant impacts across a broad range of science.


Hutchinson: So, what OU is trying to get on the forefront of here is a very complicated, bewildering area of research in quantum mechanics, and that’s what’s called atomic entanglement, and even Albert Einstein was astonished by it. Through this phenomenon, atoms can be directly linked, no matter how far apart they are. Alberto Marino is the interim director of the OU Center for Quantum Research and Technology. He explained the theory by saying that when systems are entangled, they’re correlated, and any observation of one system would allow the properties of the other to be inferred without even looking. And now, researchers are trying to utilize the power of quantum entanglement to develop an array of technology with high sensitivity for measurement. 


Ray: Well that's right. The research already underway at OU and other labs around the world could really accelerate everything from supercomputing and communications to enhanced sensing for medical imaging, and weather radar. It also might be used to detect gravitational changes within the Earth to locate potential oil and gas reserves.

Hutchinson: Right. Here’s how Dr. Marino explained how entanglement and technology works together.

Alberto Marino: “You can take advantage of these correlations and have the measurement and get better precision in the measurement, so you’ll be able to measure smaller changes, let's say in gravity, or if you were trying to measure the density of something below the earth, you can measure those changes with more precision.”

Hutchinson: The university plans to invest $54 million in the center’s researchers and operations over the next seven years. And OU isn’t the only entity in the state that’s on board with this. Sixteen million dollars has already been committed from the Avenir Foundation, which was founded by the family of OU’s first physics department chair. And the Oklahoma Legislature allocated $2 million to the center during its most recent session.


Ray: And Gov. Stitt said the center has the potential of being an important economic driver and job creator, and he plans to continue to advocate for funding through Oklahoma’s Legislature and through the state’s congressional delegation. The center is now taking applications for post-doctoral and graduate research positions. 

Hutchinson: Russell Ray is editor of The Journal Record. Thanks for your time today, Russell!

Ray: My pleasure, Drew. Thank you.

Hutchinson: KGOU and The Journal Record collaborate each week on the Business Intelligence Report. You can follow us both on social media. We're on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: @journalrecord and @KGOUnews. You'll find links to the stories we discussed during this episode at JournalRecord.com. And this conversation, along with previous episodes of the Business Intelligence Report, are available on our website, KGOU.org. While you're there, you can check out other features and podcasts produced by KGOU and our StateImpact reporting team. For KGOU and the Business Intelligence Report, I'm Drew Hutchinson.


The Business Intelligence Report is a collaborative news project between KGOU and The Journal Record.

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