Three Broad Themes of Research

The groundbreaking work being done at Frontiers Institute is organized into three broad themes based on how we see the role of technology evolving in business and society. Our researchers are pushing the performance of computing and developing new information processing platforms. They’re making sense of the ever-growing mountain of data at our disposal. And they’re continuing the great scientific tradition of developing new tools to see further into and farther beyond the world we live in.

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Computing Reimagined

Machine Intelligence

We're using the brain's wondrous neocortex as a model for developing flexible systems that continuously learn - and without human supervision.

Quantum Computer Science

Broadly accessible Quantum Computers are here today. They hold the potential to solve intractable problems, reveal unforeseen opportunities, and fundamentally change the way we look at the world around us. What will you do with so much power to process information?

Blockchain for the Physical World

We are going to bring Blockchain to the phyiscal world by employing a “blockchain device” to embed verifiable provenance and intelligence into physical goods.


The development of miniature, low-power microsystems is core to the explosion of the Internet of Things. These devices have power needs that are not met by conventional batteries — so we are developing a new class of Microbattery.

Adaptive Swarm Intelligence

In nature, swarms of organisms often appear to act with an intelligence greater than an individual's. Inspired by the collaborative and decentralized behavior of these systems, we are developing algorithms for swarm applications that are physical, cyber-physical, or even purely digital in nature.

Data Experienced


Inspired by the human nose, which uses a relatively small set of sensors and can be trained to differentiate between many different scents, we are developing a device to distinguish several trillion odors. Combining an array of optimized, nonspecific sensors with machine learning algorithms to interpret the data, it could have powerful applications in the realm of IoT and make a huge impact in environmental monitoring, food safety, healthcare, automotive, and security, among other applications.


The human tongue, with its 10,000 embedded taste buds, provides us with an immediate and powerful mechanism to discriminate liquids, recall information about them, and to rapidly make important decisions: Is this fruit still ok to eat? Does this coffee need more sugar? Imagine if we could impart the same ability to machines and apply them to domains well beyond human capability!

AI Technology for the Invisible

Multi-spectral imaging now allows us to "see" what used to be invisible. We are developing technologies that will enable machines to recognize what's in those "invisible" images, so that industries ranging from inspection to security can benefit from these new imaging capabilities.

Spatial Cognition

Monocular cameras are everywhere, creating an ever-expanding library of images. Imagine the transformative effect of using these images to build detailed 3D representations of physical spaces and understand the relationship between objects in those spaces.

Nanopixel Spatial Light Modulator

Manipulating phase and amplitude of light at the nanoscale offers promise of new holographic displays, planar lenses, and much more.

Discovery Accelerated

Accelerated Materials Discovery

The current development timeline for a new material is in excess of 10 years. Can cognitive and analytic systems learn materials science and help discover new materials in a significantly shorter time?

Intepretable ML: Symbolic Regression

The history of science is full of humans developing insights into "laws" of physics by deriving simple representations of complex observations. Using AI, we will accelerate this process of discovery.

IBM Research Frontiers Institute Early Access Program

Our Early Access Program provides Frontiers Institute members early access to the game-changing scientific and computing breakthroughs being imagined and tested inside IBM Research. An example is the Multi-Qubit Quantum Computer.

Multi-Qubit Quantum Computer

We're working on a family of multi-qubit quantum computers with the potential to process information millions or even billions of times faster than any imaginable bit-based computer.


From tweets to the weather, IoT sensors to video, the world generates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. This torrent of information has the potential to become the world’s greatest natural resource—and we have the tools to make sense of it. Use our macroscope to discover your insights.


Some of the world’s largest problems are rooted in behaviors happening at the nanoscale. We’re building tools to reveal these underlying phenomena in hopes of understanding the inner-workings of our world — and their impact on your business.

Our Next Quantum Leap

Stay tuned for an announcement from the frontiers of science and technology about our next Quantum Leap.