The W.M. Keck Foundation in Los Angeles has awarded $1.2 million to Yale to found a new center for quantum information physics, the University announced yesterday.

One major goal of the center will be to explore the science and technology necessary to build a quantum computer, in particular whether such a computer can be built using “atom-like” circuits. The total budget for the project, including the Keck foundation grant, will total more than $4.8 million.

“The W.M. Keck Foundation’s support will play a crucial role, particularly in funding a field-emission scanning electron microscope system that will complete the new Yale nano-fabrication facility and permit the Yale group for the first time to make all of its devices in-house,” Dean of Engineering Paul Fleury said in a written statement.

A quantum computer differs from a classical computer in that its components behave according to the laws of quantum mechanics rather than those of classical physics. The center will work to develop both the theoretical and the practical aspects of quantum computing, which theoretically could be far superior to conventional computers in terms of memory and security.

“This project will make significant contributions to fundamental science and the development of revolutionary technologies,” Yale President Richard Levin said in the statement.

–Yale Daily News