Advances in science and technology drive innovation and are crucial to achieving long-term, sustainable economic growth. In turn, scientific and technological progress hinges on measurement capabilities—testing, analyzing, characterizing, and more. Accurate measurements are indispensable. Or as computing pioneer Grace Murray Hopper put it, "One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions."
The physical and biological sciences are converging on the nanoscale and the decades-long trend toward ever-smaller electronic devices is approaching fundamental size limits. A new technology frontier is opening—the quantum world. The opportunities that await are underscored in the National Academies' report, Controlling the Quantum World: The Science of Atoms, Molecules and Photons1 and in A Federal Vision for Quantum Information Science,2 prepared by the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee for Quantum Information Science. Realizing these opportunities will require a vastly more sophisticated measurement system, one that enables innovators to transcend the quantum and classical worlds.
The ultimate goal of work carried out under the proposed initiative is to create the basis for quantum-based units for measurements of time, charge, and light, which can then be tied to the macroscopic units on which the International System of units (the metric system) is currently based. NIST will:
The advanced quantum-based measurement capabilities that this initiative aims to develop will enable:
1Controlling the Quantum World: The Science of Atoms, Molecules, and Photons; National Academies Press: Washington, D.C., 2007.
2A Federal Vision for Quantum Information Science; National Science and Technology Council: Washington, D.C., 2008.