German startup raises €4.6m for room temperature quantum computer

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

planqc in Germany has raised €4.6m to develop a highly scalable room temperature  quantum computer.

The technology is based on atoms trapped in optical lattices and based on research at the Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics and Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. This is the first startup to emerge from the Munich Quantum Valley, and the funding round was led by UVC Partners and Speedinvest.

The number of qubits in quantum computers limits the amount of information that can be processed, but imperfect gates introduce errors, or noise, into the result of a computation. These noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) devices have recently outperformed classical computers on some abstract problems.

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Instead, planqc’s quantum computers store information in individual atoms and arrange them in highly scalable artificial crystals of light. Quantum information is then processed with quantum gates based on precisely controlled laser pulses. This can easily scale to thousands of qubits, say the researchers.

Another German company, Quantum Brilliance, is using nitrogen vacancies in diamond to create qubits for a room temperature quantum computer, and there are several projects in the region working on various technologies for this.

“planqc’s quantum computers are built on the precision of the world’s best atomic clocks, the world’s best quantum gas microscopes, and high-speed Rydberg gates,” said Sebastian Blatt, CTO and co-founder of planqc, and researcher at Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich.

“Our atoms are more than a million times colder than deep space and over a thousand times colder than superconducting qubits used by IBM or Google, and yet we can run our computers in a room-temperature environment due to the near-perfect isolation of our qubits from the surrounding,” explains Johannes Zeiher, co-founder of planqc, researcher at MPQ. Zeiher adds: “we already routinely trap and control more than 2000 atoms in our optical lattice simulators at MPQ.”

“For me, the most exciting application of near-term quantum computers is the simulation of materials, and the platform based on atoms used in planqc is the best suited for that purpose,” says J. Ignacio Cirac, director at the Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ). “Once our quantum computers demonstrate quantum advantage for an industry-relevant problem, they will have a massive social and economic impact,” says Alexander Glätzle, CEO and co-founder of planqc, and previously a researcher at the University of Oxford.

The founding team is completed by Ann-Kristin Achleitner, member of several supervisory boards and financial expert as well as serial entrepreneur Markus Wagner, founder of i5invest. The team is supported by scientific advisors Immanuel Bloch and J. Ignacio Cirac, both directors at MPQ and famous for their seminal work on quantum simulation and quantum information, as well as quantum algorithm expert Dieter Jaksch, Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford and the University of Hamburg.

“This world-class team combines the technical and commercial expertise to build the world’s most powerful quantum computers,” said Amanda Birkenholz, Investment Manager at UVC Partners. Immanuel Bloch, director at the Max-Planck-Institute of Quantum Optics, says: “I am excited to see planqc come to life, which will enable commercialization of technological developments of our research teams at MPQ and LMU in the context of quantum computing and simulation applications and beyond.”

“Quantum computers have the potential to change entire industries and we are convinced that the team can win the global race of building the first scalable quantum computer that operates at room temperature,” said Benjamin Erhart, partner at UVC Partners. Rick Hao, partner at Speedinvest, says: “We have tracked this technology for a long time and planqc’s notably different approach to scaling quantum computing appealed to us immediately. Alexander, Sebastian, and Johannes have brought together an impressive team of experts who share a passion for driving innovation in quantum.”


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