Charles Tahan

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Charles Tahan
Assistant Director For Quantum Information Science, Office of Science and Technology Policy and Director, National Quantum Coordination Office
Chief Scientist, Laboratory for Physical Sciences, National Security Agency
Personal details
EducationCollege of William and Mary (BS, Physics, Computer Science)
University of Wisconsin-Madison (PhD, Physics)

Charles Tahan is a U.S. physicist specializing in condensed matter physics and quantum information science and technology. He currently serves as the Assistant Director for Quantum Information Science (QIS) and the Director of the National Quantum Coordination Office (NQCO)[1] within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Tahan is also Chief Scientist of the National Security Agency's Laboratory for Physical Sciences.[2]


Tahan grew up in Northern Virginia, the son of a Lebanese immigrant. He graduated from Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. in 1996 where he was a Westinghouse Science Talent Search semifinalist[3] and may have created the first web page for a high school.[4] He earned a B.Sc. in physics and computer science with Highest Honors from the College of William & Mary in 2000 and a PhD in physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2005 in silicon quantum computing.[5] From 2005-2007 he was a National Science Foundation Distinguished International Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, UK; the Center for Quantum Computing Technology, Australia; and the University of Tokyo, Japan.


Tahan served as chief technical consultant for quantum information science and technology programs in DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office (MTO) while at Booz Allen Hamilton from 2007-2009 helping to launch new DARPA programs such as QuEST and QIS. He joined the National Security Agency's Laboratory for Physical Sciences in 2009 as a physicist and technical program manager. As a program manager, Tahan stood up major research programs in silicon and superconducting quantum computing; quantum characterization, verification, and validation (coining the term QCVV);[6] and new and emerging qubit science and technology.

As a practicing physicist,[7] Tahan pioneered new approaches to silicon and superconducting quantum computing, strongly correlated photonics and solid light,[8] quantum acoustics and cavity phonodynamics,[9][10][11] and epitaxial superconductors.[12]

Tahan was Technical Director of the Laboratory for Physical Sciences in 2015-2020.[13]

Tahan became the first Director of the National Quantum Coordination Office in June, 2020.[14][15] He is currently Chief Scientist of LPS and the Chief of the QIS research office.

Tahan’s contributions have been recognized by the Researcher of the Year Award, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers,[16] election as a Fellow of the American Physical Society,[17] and as an ODNI Science and Technology Fellow.

Science and Society[edit]

Tahan served as founding Executive Secretary of the NSTC Subcommittee on Quantum Information Science[18] and the NSTC Economic and Security Implications of Quantum Science Subcommittee. Tahan served on the Defense Science Board Quantum Task Force [19] and for the National Academy of Sciences.[20][21] Tahan co-chairs the National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee.[22]

As a graduate student in 2005, Tahan created and taught a new course on ‘’Nanotechnology and Society’’[23] and subsequently explored the societal impacts of nanotechnology[24][25] and did early analysis of the quantum industry.[26] Tahan coined the term spookytechnology in 2007 as a way to promote his proposed definition[27][28][29] for quantum information technologies.

Tahan is creator of Meqanic,[30] one of the first games meant to build intuition about quantum computing and the Qubit Zoo.[31]


  1. ^ "The National Quantum Coordination Office".
  2. ^ "NSA's Laboratory for Physical Sciences Announces First-Ever Qubit Collaboratory > National Security Agency Central Security Service > Article View". Archived from the original on 2021-01-28. Retrieved 2021-01-18.
  3. ^[bare URL PDF]
  4. ^ @tahantech (14 July 2020). "Found this rummaging through old documents. Did we create the first high school web page? (probably not, but would…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  5. ^ Silicon in the Quantum Limit: Quantum Computing and Decoherence in Silicon Architectures
  6. ^ "Broad Agency Announcements – DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-04-10.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Could Light Behave as a Solid? A New Theory".
  9. ^ "UMD Physics - UMD Physics".
  10. ^ Ruskov, R.; Tahan, C. (2014). "Catching the quantum sound wave". Science. 346 (6206): 165–166. Bibcode:2014Sci...346..165R. doi:10.1126/science.1260180. PMID 25301603. S2CID 206562074.
  11. ^ "How to Build a Phononic Computer".
  12. ^ "Superconducting-Silicon Qubits". 2 July 2014.
  13. ^
  14. ^ New Director of National Quantum Coordination Office Named 
  15. ^ "Two Years into the Government's National Quantum Initiative". 21 December 2020.
  16. ^ "For First Time, Intelligence Community Researchers Selected for Presidential Early Career Awards in Science and Engineering".
  17. ^ "APS Fellow Archive".
  18. ^
  19. ^[bare URL PDF]
  20. ^[bare URL PDF]
  21. ^ An Assessment of Four Divisions of the Physical Measurement Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. 2018. doi:10.17226/25281. ISBN 978-0-309-48545-6. S2CID 239965084.
  22. ^ "NQIAC Members | U.S. DOE Office of Science(SC)". 6 August 2020.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Nanoethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Nanotechnology | Wiley".
  25. ^[bare URL PDF]
  26. ^ "C. Tahan, Quantum Technology and Industry, APS Quantum Times Newsletter, Winter 2008" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-10-25. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
  27. ^ C. Tahan, Spookytechnology and Society, 12/Oct/2007
  28. ^ WIRED Oct 22, 2007: Spookyweapons: Quantum Warfare of the Future?
  29. ^ "PhysicsWorld: "Spookytechnology" anyone?". Archived from the original on 2009-02-14. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
  30. ^
  31. ^

External links[edit]