Hewlett-Packard Quantum Science Research


The Quantum Science Research (QSR) group at HP Labs in Palo Alto, CA was formed in 1995. QSR focuses on the fabrication of nanometer-scale structures and the measurement and understanding of their properties.  QSR researchers span a broad range of academic disciplines, including computer architecture, theoretical solid state physics, electrical engineering, materials science, and physical chemistry (1).

QSR has begun a new basic research program in nanoscale classical and quantum optics for information processing applications, with an emphasis on areas of interest that complement and extend QSR’s existing program in nanoelectronics. Their research is focused on harnessing the laws of quantum mechanics for optical information science and technology, allowing ever higher levels of integration and eventually leading to a “Moore’s Law” for optical information technology (1).

Facilities and Research Initiatives

Scientists in HP Labs have demonstrated that it could be possible to continue advancing computer power by eliminating the need for transistors - the basic building block of computing for the last 50 years. In a paper published in the Journal of Applied Physics, three members of HP Labs' Quantum Science Research (QSR) group in Palo Alto offer a feasibility-level description and demonstration of the "crossbar latch" - a bistable-switch latch that promises to replace the traditional transistor and to resolve some issues that have stymied progress in molecular scale computing (2).

HP Lab researchers describe and demonstrate a microscopic device consisting of a single wire acting as a signal line, crossed by two control lines with an electrically switchable molecular-scale junction where they intersect. By applying a sequence of voltage impulses to the control lines and using switches of opposite polarities, the latch can perform the NOT function essential for general computing operations. In addition, it can restore a logic level in a circuit to its ideal voltage value, allowing a designer to chain many simple gates together to perform an arbitrary computation.  In principle, these operations enable universal computing for crossbar circuits, and potentially integrated nanoscale electronics (2).

QSR researchers are examining the properties of various metals for wires and materials for switches that could be used in fabrication at the nano level. They are also proposing ways in which the tiny devices could be linked to conventional microelectronics.  The researchers are also looking at a variety of fabrication processes including nanoimprint lithography, a kind of production process akin to a traditional printing press and chemical self-assembly by growing silicon nanowires between electrodes (3).

Strategic Partnerships

Quantum Science Research works with other research and development groups at HP as well as academic organizations. QSR at HP Labs has collaborated with the Imaging and Personal Systems Group in Corvallis which is leading an effort to provide a scientifically sound, practical, economical alternative to silicon technology (2).


  1. Hewlett-Packard (2012). “Quantum Science Research.” Retrieved on November 10, 2012 from www.hpl.hp.com/research/qsr
  2. AZoNano (2005, February 1). “Researchers Find that the ‘Crossbar Latch’ Can Replace Transistors and Improve Processing Power.” Retrieved on November 10, 2012 from www.azonano.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=1206
  3. Business Wire (2005, March 14). “Beyond Silicon: HP Outlines Comprehensive Strategy for Molecular-scale Electronics.” Retrieved on November 10, 2012 from www.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20050314005227&newsLang=en