Leibniz University Hannover (LUH) and Physikalisch Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) are significantly involved in building a quantum computer based on trapped ions. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has approved the proposal for the collaborative project MIQRO, enabling the partners to launch the project, which is in receipt of 15.8 million euros of funding. The project aims to achieve an ambitious goal: developing an innovative quantum computer based on high-frequency controlled ions. In addition to LUH and PTB, partners include Universität Siegen, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, QUARTIQ GmbH and eleQtron GmbH as an associate partner. The project is scheduled to be completed within four years. The quantum computer developed and operated within the scope of the project will subsequently be scalable to a thousand quantum bits, enabling numerous applications in science and the industry and paving the way for tasks beyond the capabilities of conventional supercomputers.
“The approved funding will boost local quantum computing research significantly. With “Quantum Valley Lower Saxony” – the quantum alliance based in Lower Saxony – we are already deeply involved in the development of this future-oriented technology. The MIQRO project provides an opportunity to expand our activities while strengthening the development of the underlying chip technology”, explains Prof. Dr. Christian Ospelkaus, in charge of coordinating tasks at Leibniz University Hannover and PTB.
Advantages of quantum computers
Quantum computers are intended to solve problems that cannot be solved by today’s most state-of-the-art supercomputers. In a quantum computer, information is stored and processed in quantum bits able to represent the values 0 and 1 simultaneously. Conventional computers use classic bits, which can only represent 0 or 1. Quantum parallelism is a key feature of quantum computers and enables them to solve complex problems efficiently that basically remain unsolvable for the best bit-based supercomputers. Possible applications for such computing power cover various fields, including materials science, chemistry or pharmacology – where solving highly complex issues is a persisting problem – as well as logistics or finance, where multilayered optimisation problems exist. Quantum computers promise far-reaching solutions for those problems.
Although some specific tasks can already be solved by existing quantum computers, we cannot make full use of the potential performance of quantum computers so far. The key problem of current approaches lies in the gradation of existing facilities to dimensions able to solve problems that cannot be tackled by state-of-the-art supercomputers and computer clusters.
The core of the envisioned universal quantum computer is an innovative quantum core module based on saved ions with up to 32 qubits, representing the foundation for a future quantum computing system. The module can be used for scaling an efficient quantum computer to up to a thousand qubits without switching technologies. For this purpose, the consortium has chosen the ion trap technology, where individual ions are used as quantum bits stored via electrical fields. The patented microfabrication procedures developed at Leibniz University Hannover and PTB play a key role in this endeavour. “A quantum computer based on trapped ions can be pictured as a large freight depot. The tracks of this depot are formed via electrical fields located above the microchips. In analogy to a microprocessor, a single siding is called a ‘register'”, explains Professor Ospelkaus. “A quantum processor is equipped with registers in order to prepare qubits for solving arithmetic operations. Here at Leibniz University Hannover and PTB, we develop the chip design and the finished processor chip for MIQRO.”
The hardware for the quantum computer is built at both facilities. While the individual qubits can be cooled down to close to absolute zero by using laser beams, the environment of the qubits is determined by the temperature of the surrounding vacuum apparatus. For this reason, it is usually not entirely free of disturbing atoms, which could collide with the qubits, therefore causing losses. Within the scope of the MIQRO project, researchers develop an apparatus that can be cooled down to 4.3 degrees above absolute zero. At this temperature, all gases in the apparatus freeze. Therefore, individual atoms can no longer be lost through collisions.
Within the collaborative project, the expertise of the involved partners will be used in the best possible way. Leibniz University Hannover and PTB will contribute their expertise in the field of cryogenic ion trap apparatuses. Moreover, the chip design as well as the production of the processor chips will take place in Hannover and Braunschweig. Researchers at Universität Siegen will assemble the laser systems and implement quantum gates via microwave radiation. Furthermore, Universität Siegen is in charge of coordinating the collaborative project and will provide the processor for users. With experts in the field of measurement and reconstruction of quantum states and Prof. Dr. Martin Kliesch, who provides theoretical input, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf is well-positioned for developing and implementing the required characterisation and verification methods. With regard to electronic control systems of the facilities, MIQRO benefits from leading developments of QUARTIQ GmbH and its director Dr. Robert Jördens, whose control software platforms ARTIQ and Sinara are already used by research groups around the world in order to control quantum technologies and which cover a broad product profile with components fulfilling industry standards.
Note to editors
For further information, please contact Professor Christian Ospelkaus, Institute of Quantum Optics, Tel. +49 511 762-17644, Email [email protected].
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