DOE launches new office of critical and emerging technology

Published on December 28, 2023 by Dave Kovaleski

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is launching the Office of Critical and Emerging Technology to support investments in artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology, quantum computing, semiconductors, and other critical and emerging technologies (CET).

Critical and emerging technologies have broad applications in DOE-related areas such as clean energy, national defense, and pandemic preparedness. This new office – which stems from an executive order by President Joe Biden — will focus the DOE’s efforts on ensuring that its capabilities are helping to solve critical science, energy, and security challenges.

“Since their inception, DOE’s National Laboratories have been central to the nation’s scientific and technological advancement, and we are preparing to ensure that, as new technologies emerge, the United States leads the way in exploring those frontiers,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said. “Our new Office of Critical and Emerging Technology will leverage DOE’s world-class scientists and technical capabilities in the interest of American security and competitiveness.”

Helena Fu has been named director of the new office. Previously, she was senior advisor to the undersecretary for science and innovation and served as director for technology and national security at the National Security Council. In addition to her role as director of this office, Fu will also serve as DOE’s chief artificial intelligence officer, where she will coordinate the department’s use of AI, manage risks from its use, and promote innovation.

The Office of Critical and Emerging Technology will report to the undersecretary for science and innovation. It will serve as a single point of contact on CET at the DOE to help ensure that the federal government, in partnership with the private sector and academia, continues to be at the forefront of research, development, and deployment of key innovations impacting U.S. competitiveness and security.