€50m project for room temperature photonic quantum computer

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Startup Q.Ant in Germany is leading a project to develop a room temperature photonic quantum computer

The €50m PhoQuant project has 14 consortium partners, including a number of German universities as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) in Dresden and optical component supplier Menlo Systems.

The all-German consortium is developing a new photonic computing architecture that will enable a quantum computer with up to 100 qubits during the course of the project.

“In this project, Fraunhofer IPMS is developing FPGA and ASIC architectures with active interfaces for high-precision control and evaluation of functionalities of the photonic quantum computer chip. In addition to know-how in photonics, competences in mixed-signal control design for FPGA and ASICs are particularly necessary for this. These are competences that we can contribute in order to realize a common goal together with the consortium partners. Namely, to realize a high-performance photonic quantum computer,” said Marcus Pietzsch, head of the PhoQuant project at IPMS.

Many ion trap quantum computers still operate at extremely low temperatures, while even current photonic quantum computers require low temperatures, Cooling requirements are correspondingly high, and direct on-chip coupling with classical computer architectures are difficult.

€42m of the funding is coming from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), while the consortium partners will contribute around €8m. The funding will be used to build a demonstration and test facility for photonic quantum computer chips and other quantum computing components.

In the five year project, the consortium will develop algorithms and technologies for photonic quantum computing and prepare for industrial deployment. The functions required for computing operations can be fabricated on a single chip using sophisticated semiconductor manufacturing processes. By depositing highly specialized light channels on silicon wafers, quantum states can be manipulated, controlled and monitored in photonic integrated circuits with almost no loss, even at room temperature. In the future, this will make it possible to use the chips to supplement conventional mainframe computers.

“The funding is an important signal for Germany as a location for innovation. We are at the dawn of the quantum computing age and the global race for market share of this future technology has begun. The funds now provided for this research alliance are an important building block for a quantum computer made in Germany,” said Michael Förtsch, CEO of Q.ANT.

“If we want to achieve the goal of German-made quantum computer chips – plus all the jobs that would involve – we need to get top-class researchers and companies working together. The only way to harness Germany’s expertise as a major player in the world of science and research and transform it into successful industrial products is by fostering close cooperation between businesses, universities and applied research institutions,” he said.

Optimized algorithms for special problems as well as algorithms for universal quantum computing will be developed for the architecture during the project and made available to the public via cloud connection.

The project partners want to present a first prototype in 2024, with a quantum computer chip capable of performing large-scale calculations by 2027.

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