Germany is hedging its bets on quantum computer technology following the European Union combining four projects.
The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has now commissioned Universal Quantum Deutschland, a subsidiary of UK startup Universal Quantum, to build a fully scalable trapped ion quantum computer under a €67m contract.
This comes as part of the German Quantum Computing Initiative founded by the German Ministry of Economy, a wider quantum initiative by the German federal government. Last week the EU announced it was combining four projects building quantum computers using Rydberg neural atoms, including two at DLR in Hamburg.
The first part of the UQ project is a single-chip quantum computer, to be followed by a multi-chip system with 100 qubits. The quantum computers will be built within 4 years at the DLR facilities in Hamburg and will be made accessible to partners.
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“Germany is helping to move the needle on quantum computing becoming useful to society and we’re thrilled that another major government is becoming a supporter and customer of our stellar team and technology, building on our recent successes with the UK government,” said Sebastian Weidt, CEO and Co-Founder of Universal Quantum.
“This is a huge validation of how unique and promising our technology is, and represents a major step forward in our mission to build quantum computers that will help enable people to solve the biggest challenges humanity is facing. We are looking forward to expanding our technology into new markets, building on our recent successes with partners that share our values.”
“Our team has worked intensively on the development of our technology. With the DLR contract, we have reached an important milestone and received further recognition of the quality of our technology,” said Prof. Winfried Hensinger, Chief Scientist, Co-Founder and Chairman of Universal Quantum.
“Key to our technical concept is the inherent scalability of the quantum computers we are building. Our mission is to solve many fundamental problems of our time – this is the next step along the way.”
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DLR is also hosting other quantum computer startups at Hamburg, and last week the EU announced it was combining its trapped ion projects to create a regional champion.
Alongside Rydberg atoms, trapped ion technology is one of the most mature approaches to building quantum computers. This requires the reliable connection of chips and modules as well as cooling temperatures and other engineering requirements. Universal Quantum’s approach allows modules to be connected to scale to high qubit numbers, all while requiring only moderate cooling temperatures.
The two machines will allow researchers to test new concepts for software development and continue to build on existing skills.
As part of a UK government supported project, Universal Quantum is leading a consortium that includes Rolls Royce where the focus is on developing a quantum computer that can help to build more fuel-efficient turbines for aviation to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
“Ion trap systems allow universal arithmetic operations. They are not dedicated to solving specific tasks,” said Karla Loida, Project Manager for the Quantum Computing Initiative.
“Quantum computers based on ion traps have a number of advantages: the qubits are comparatively stable and offer superlative gate properties – a prerequisite for building high-quality quantum computers. Integration on microchips and innovative chip designs mean that scalability is now within reach. The technologies required for construction have now reached maturity. Integration on microchips has also proven successful.”
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