Tohoku University, University of Chicago announce new ‘quantum alliance’ – Collaboration to accelerate quantum research and build international quantum workforce

Aims of the Chicago-Tohoku Quantum Alliance:

  • Further strengthen collaboration in quantum science
  • Promote student & researcher exchange; provide support for startups and social implementation
  • Collaborate with industry; promote an innovation ecosystem



Tohoku University and the University of Chicago are jointly launching the Chicago-Tohoku Quantum Alliance to promote collaborative research, student exchange, and start-ups in quantum science and engineering fields.

The alliance brings together the two universities’ complementary strengths, specifically Tohoku University’s expertise in materials science, characterization, and nanofabrication and the University of Chicago’s strength in quantum science. It is poised to make significant contributions to the development of quantum technology through student and faculty exchanges and collaborative research. The joint agreement aims to contribute to the formation of a collaborative network across academia, industry, and government in Japan and beyond.

The alliance will allow the two universities to expand upon joint research already carried out. Among its many outcomes will be broadened access to R&D facilities; multi-layered joint laboratories; R&D and educational collaboration with industry; and social implementation.



The two universities have been collaborating in the field of spintronics, which includes quantum science and engineering, since 2014. Work has been carried out at the UChicago-TU Advanced Institute for Materials Research (AIMR) Joint Research Center, Tohoku University’s Graduate Program in Spintronics (GP-Spin), and the Center for Science and Innovation in Spintronics (CSIS). Associate Professor Shun Kanai of the Research Institute of Electrical Communication spent one year as an early-career researcher at the University of Chicago, working with Prof. David Awschalom and his group. The group’s activities achieved results in the study of solid-state spin defects for quantum engineering, and co-authored articles have been published in prestigious international scientific journals (see Ref. 1).

The forming of the alliance was inspired by the Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE)1 model created in 2017.


Tohoku University & Quantum Science and Engineering

Tohoku University is the only university with a complete process line for 300mm wafers, and the total area of its clean rooms is among the largest in Japan (8,500m2 in total).

Tohoku University has many researchers working in the quantum field and has been recognized by the Japanese government as a hub for ‘Quantum Solution’, one of the ten Quantum Technology Innovation Hubs.2 In particular, the university is making progress in its research on superconductor qubits and semiconductor qubits.

In peripheral technologies, the university is working on pseudo quantum computation using spintronics, materials and devices required for quantum technology, and the fusion of quantum and high-performance computing technologies.

Tohoku University is developing talented individuals through an international joint graduate school program in Spintronics (see Ref. 2), in addition to running a special quantum technology outreach program (see Ref. 3) for high school students and up, in order to educate a wide section of society about quantum technology.


University of Chicago & Quantum Science and Engineering

The University of Chicago is a world leader in the field of fundamental quantum science research. It is also home to the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, which, with a core focus on quantum, continues to push the boundaries of the field. The university also runs one of the largest quantum communications networks in the U.S., a 200km network that uses technology provided by Toshiba. It leads one of the nation’s ten national quantum research centers, QuBBE (NSF Quantum Leap Challenge Institute for Quantum Sensing for Biophysics and Bioengineering); serves as a partner in two others: Q-NEXT and HQAN (Next Generation Quantum Science and Engineering, and NSF Quantum Leap Challenge Institute for Hybrid Quantum Architectures and Networks, respectively); and is affiliated with a fourth, SQMS (Superconducting Quantum Materials and Systems Center). The university is also the base for Duality,3 the first accelerator program in the U.S. exclusively focused on supporting innovative quantum startups.


Upcoming Developments

A joint workshop will be held in Sendai in October 2023 to commemorate the launch of the alliance and further accelerate collaboration. A Science Park is being developed on the new extension to Tohoku University’s Aobayama Campus, and the establishing of a base for the co-creation of social value is under consideration.

The Argonne National Laboratory synchrotron radiation facility in Chicago and NanoTerasu, the next-generation synchrotron radiation facility under construction on Aobayama Campus, differ in what they make visible within their respective hard X-ray region (6 GeV) and soft X-ray region (3 GeV). However, both are used extensively by industry. There are great expectations for the NanoTerasu and the anticipated synergy resulting from its use by industry and quantum-related stakeholders.


Notes and References

Note 1: Chicago Quantum Exchange (CQE)

An intellectual hub that aims to advance quantum research, train the future quantum workforce, drive the local and national quantum economy, and serve as a bridge connecting academia, industry, and government.

Note 2: Quantum Technology Innovation Hubs

Centers established through a project launched in February 2021, based on the Quantum Technology Innovation Strategy that aims to ensure and strengthen Japan’s international competitiveness in the field of quantum technology (as formulated on January 21, 2020 by the Integrated Innovation Strategy Promotion Council).

Note 3: Duality

Based in Chicago, Duality is the first accelerator program in the U.S. exclusively focused on supporting innovative quantum startups. It is led by the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and CQE. Its fellow founding partners are the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Argonne National Laboratory, and P33.


Reference 1:   An article explaining the research is available in English (A Mathematical Shortcut for Determining Quantum Information Lifetimes)
A Japanese-language article is also available here

Reference 2:  Tohoku University’s Graduate Program in Spintronics:

Reference 3:  Quantum Technology Outreach Program

Reference 4:  University of Chicago Press Release



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