Frontiers in Optics + Laser Science Conference

Members of the Quantum Moonshot team will be participating in the 2023 Fio+LS event on October 9-12 in Tacoma, WA. Stay tuned for a list of technical papers and talks. 

Oct 9 - 12, 2023
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Quantum Moonshot

MITRE “moonshots,” funded by MITRE’s independent R&D program, are one of the ways MITRE is tackling ambitious, ground-breaking problems for a safer world. 

The MITRE-led Quantum Moonshot team, which includes experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Sandia National Laboratories, is making noteworthy progress in designing and building the world’s first fully universal, scalable photonic quantum computer and integrated quantum network.

The Quantum team has documented its achievement of the world’s first high-speed programmable photonics platform at cryogenic temperatures, a necessary requisite that paves the way for a fully integrated programmable quantum computer. 

Led by MITRE’s Dr. Gerry Gilbert, the team encompasses a diverse set of experts in theoretical and experimental physics, including Dr. Dirk Englund, MIT, and Dr. Matt Eichenfield, Sandia. By combining knowledge and resources, this team has made great progress in three years. 

MITRE has had a quantum research program for more than 20 years, recognizing the potential of quantum information science to benefit the nation. One of our goals is to help government agencies understand emerging technologies that could transform their missions. 

Our joint team is developing a quantum computer that will be of practical use in solving real-world problems. These problems involve high-speed, large-scale optimization of massive data sets, dynamic neural network training, real-time financial analysis, complex materials design, medicine and vaccine design—as well as cryptography and code breaking.

MITRE is also identifying those problems that could be solved by quantum computers that would most benefit the world and helping the U.S. government take advantage of the technology.

The Quantum Moonshot Team

Dr Gerald Gilbert

Dr. Gerald Gilbert holds the position of MITRE Fellow, which is the highest technical recognition that MITRE bestows.

Dr. Gilbert has performed research in theoretical physics spanning areas from string theory to quantum gravity to quantum information theory. He leads MITRE’s flagship quantum research project, the Quantum Moonshot, one of the largest research projects MITRE has ever taken on. The Quantum Moonshot team is a partnership of leading physics research groups at MITRE, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Sandia National Laboratories.

He earned his doctorate in theoretical physics under Nobel Laureate Professor Steven Weinberg at the University of Texas. After earning his Ph.D., Gilbert was awarded the Weingart Prize Research Fellowship in Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology, after which he was awarded a University Research Fellowship at Cambridge University (studying and conducting research under Professor Stephen Hawking).

Dr. Gilbert is a member of the Board of Advisors of SandboxAQ, an enterprise SaaS company. He has served on the U.S. Defense Science Board and the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board as an expert on quantum information science and has participated in many expert scientific panels and public forums.


Dr Dirk Englund

Dr. Dirk Englund, a member of the MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science faculty, leads MIT’s Quantum Photonics Laboratory. His research focuses on photonic devices and systems for machine learning acceleration and quantum information. 

His recognitions include the 2011 Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, the 2011 Sloan Fellowship in Physics, the 2012 DARPA Young Faculty Award, the 2017 ACS Photonics Young Investigator Award, the OSA's 2017 Adolph Lomb Medal, a Bose Research Fellowship in 2018, a Humboldt Research Fellowship in 2020, and a Humboldt Professorship (declined). He is a fellow of Optica. 

Dr. Englund received his bachelor’s degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology. After a Fulbright fellowship at Eindhoven University of Technology, he earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering and his doctorate in applied physics at Stanford University. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, he joined Columbia University as Assistant Professor of electrical engineering and applied physics. He joined the MIT faculty in 2013.


Dr Matt Eichnfield

Dr. Matt Eichenfield is an Associate Professor and the SPIE Endowed Chair in Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona Wyant College of Optical Sciences.  He is also Sandia National Labs’ first Distinguished Faculty Joint Appointee. At Sandia, he built and leads the MEMS-Enabled Quantum Systems Program in the MEMS Technologies Department. He engages in research across both the university and Sandia. 

Previously, he was a Principal Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia, where he led a large group of Ph.D. and master-level technical staff members, postdoctoral scholars, technologists, and graduate and undergraduate students with a multi-million dollar yearly operating budget. They worked on solving important science and engineering problems for national security.

Dr. Eichenfield received his bachelor’s in physics from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in physics from the California Institute of Technology. He received the Demetriades Prize for Best Caltech Thesis. 

After obtaining his Ph.D., he was awarded the Kavli Nanoscience Institute Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship at Caltech. In 2011, he was awarded the President Harry S. Truman Fellowship in National Security Science and Engineering. 

About MITRE Moonshots

MITRE Moonshot efforts are high-risk, potentially disruptive research endeavors that require significant investment but could produce significant returns to the nation.  Large in scale, and with multi-year program plans, Moonshots seek to fundamentally alter the nation’s technical capabilities and approaches to complex problems, while simultaneously establishing the corporation as a consensus thought leader in these important, possibly emerging domains.