April 14, 2022
Staff Accomplishment

Dr. Joseph Williams on Quantum in Space

Williams explained the importance of quantum technologies in space

Photo of Joseph Williams

Dr. Joseph Williams presented “The Space Quantum Connection” as part of the University of Washington’s Space Dialogues.

(Photo by Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Dr. Joseph Williams, Director of the Seattle Research Center of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), recently presented the “The Space Quantum Connection” webinar at the Space Policy and Research Center (SPARC) of the University of Washington (UW) as part of the UW Space Dialogues.

“Quantum technologies can make massive impacts from and in space,” said Williams. “For example, quantum sensors will help advance space exploration, and quantum communications can provide real-time communications from outer space.”

Williams brings policy and economic development expertise to PNNL, particularly in the areas of information and communications technologies. Prior to joining PNNL in 2019, he served as the information and communications technology sector lead for Governor Jay Inslee and as the director of economic development for the information and communication technology industry sector. Currently, Williams is the Vice Chair of the Quantum for National Security (Q4NS) Technical Advisory Committee of the Quantum Economic Development Consortium.

From his vantage point in Seattle, Williams sees huge opportunities for potential mergers between space and quantum research in the Pacific Northwest. “Seattle is a hotbed of space research right now,” said Williams. “And with the rapid growth of quantum-related research here, particularly from the Northwest Quantum Nexus, sets the stage for researchers to combine these two areas.”

Though quantum in space is still a relatively nascent idea, technology and policy experts at PNNL, such as Advisor and U.S. Air Force Major General (Retired) Sandy Finan and Global Security Technology and Policy Group Leader Sarah Frazer, can help shape the future of quantum technologies in space.

“PNNL has the people, expertise, and facilities to be a major driver in our future in space,” said Finan. Finan further adds, “PNNL’s space-related capabilities cross many disciplines such as the science and engineering of how we will survive and operate and the policies and laws we will need in place to ensure the peaceful use of space. The new reality of space presents many grand challenges which PNNL stands ready to take on.”

This talk is part of a partnership between PNNL and UW to advance public understanding and education related to space technology, law, and policy. PNNL activities under this partnership include participation in the “Power for Propulsion” panel during a SPARC space symposium, an exchange of expertise and technical capabilities, and opportunities for student internships.

A recording of the talk can be found on one of the official YouTube channels of University of Washington and the talk slides can be found on the SPARC website.

Published: April 14, 2022