Technology & Innovation

A “Focused Research Organization” for Superconducting Optoelectronic Intelligence

04.02.21 | 3 min read | Text by Dr. Jeffrey Shainline

Artificial intelligence places strenuous demands on current computing hardware, but the integration of semiconductors, superconductors, and optical hardware will create revolutionary new tools for AI.

Problem Statement


Project Concept

我们可以通过计算机硬件的进步来满足这两个需求。Our approach builds upon the silicon transistors of digital computing, adding superconducting circuitry to accomplish neural computations, and optical components to realize extensive communication across human-brain-scale systems. We have already made substantial progress in demonstrating key components and are ready to scale to a multiyear effort to integrate into a chip-scale cortex (see slides).

Where are we now?



Focused Research Organizations (FROs) are time-limited mission-focused research teams organized like a startup to tackle a specific mid-scale science or technology challenge. FRO projects seek to produce transformative new tools, technologies, processes, or datasets that serve as public goods, creating new capabilities for the research community with the goal of accelerating scientific and technological progress more broadly. Crucially, FRO projects are those that often fall between the cracks left by existing research funding sources due to conflicting incentives, processes, mission, or culture. There are likely a large range of possible project concepts for which agencies could leverage FRO-style entities to achieve their mission and advance scientific progress.

This project is suited for a FRO-style approachbecause the integration of semiconductors, superconductors, and optical hardware is beyond the scope of a single academic or government research group, and this endeavor will require appreciable investment in awell-orchestrated, focused team, more akin to a startup. However, given the complexity of the technology, five years will be required to bring a competitive product to market, which isstill too early for venture capitalists. Because AI hardware is well-established and continuously improving, gaining market traction will require not only superior hardware, but also streamlined software and user interfaces. An FRO is the ideal context to pursue a complete system meeting the needs of a large and diverse pool of users.

How This Project Will Benefit Scientific Progress


Key Contacts



Learn more about FROs, and see our full library of FRO project proposals here.