Ion trap with integrated optics for quantum computing. Photo: ETHZ website.
ETH Zurich and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) establish a joint center for the development of quantum computers. Its goal is to advance the implementation of quantum computers based on both ion traps and superconducting components. ETH Zurich is providing 32 million francs for this center, which will bring together about 30 researchers.
They are cumbersome, error-prone, and difficult to build – the rise of quantum computers is similar to the birth of conventional computers. Researchers at ETH Zurich are currently controlling quantum computers with up to 17 quantum bits, so-called qubits. However, for quantum computers to one day reach their full potential, devices with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of qubits are needed.
The next step will be the development of quantum computers with over 100 qubits. To this end, ETH Zurich and the Paul Scherrer Institute in Willigen open the ETH Zurich – PSI Quantum Computing Hub. Detlef Günther, VP of Research at ETH Zurich, is convinced that “the partnership with PSI will further strengthen ETH’s leadership in quantum computing engineering.” More than 30 scientists will work in the new hub. Led by ETH professors Andreas Wallraff and Jonathan Home, they will conduct research in two technology areas – superconducting circuits and ion traps. In the future, the research center will be complemented by groups working on related topics.
Two technologies, one goal
“What’s special about the Quantum Computing Hub is that these two technologies are being researched in the same lab,” says Andreas Walraff. Although the hardware of quantum computers based on ions and superconductors is fundamentally different, he sees potential synergies, for example, in the development of operating systems. ETH and PSI also plan to leverage synergies: “At PSI we have been working on industry-specific quantum technologies for some time now. We also develop and use quantum technology for particle physics, ”says Gabriel Eppley, Head of Photonic Research at PSI. “The new hub to be created now with ETH Zurich is a great addition.” For the Quantum Computing Center, PSI provides its know-how in the implementation of large-scale research projects, as well as in cryoelectronics and nano-manufacturing, as well as extremely accurate measurement methods in its large research centers. The quantum computing center will be located on the PSI campus in Willigen, canton Aargau. To this end, the existing building was converted specifically for research on quantum computers.
Quantum computers for interdisciplinary research
ETH Zurich ranks among the world’s leading universities in the field of quantum research. In total, ETH employs more than two dozen professors in six faculties. The quantum computers developed at the center will be made available to researchers from various departments to give them direct access to the test bed for two leading technologies. Making abstract phenomena of quantum mechanics work in specific applications requires more than just physicists who investigate these phenomena theoretically and experimentally. Equally needed are engineers who are involved in, for example, electronics, nano-manufacturing, new materials or scaling, as well as computer scientists who develop the necessary software platforms to take advantage of new technologies.
This article was originally published on May 3rd on ETH Zurich.