EPFL launches quantum computing and technology centre

August 31, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
EPFL launches quantum computing and technology centre
EPFL’s Centre for Quantum Science and Engineering (QSE) in Switzerland will develop quantum computing algorithms as well as hardware for computing sensing and communications

Swiss research lab EPFL in Lausanne has launched a multi-disciplinary Centre for Quantum Science and Engineering. This will work closely with the University of Geneva.

The QSE Centre will be led by Prof. Vincenzo Savona, the head of EPFL’s Laboratory of Theoretical Physics of Nanosystems, to develop and implement a wide range of quantum technology.

“Current and future breakthroughs in quantum technology mark major turning points in the history of humanity,” said Prof Savona. “We’re in a pioneering era that’s similar to the emergence of computers in the 1950s and the advent of the internet in the 1990s. This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to contribute to the progress and advancement of our society.”

“Developing quantum technology is an incredible venture that puts us face to face with unprecedented scientific and engineering challenges. Meeting these challenges requires a concerted effort from all technical disciplines – physics, mathematics, chemistry, computer science and engineering – more so than for any previous kind of technological development,” he said. “EPFL has a long history of excellence and leadership in these various disciplines and occupies a unique strategic position in quantum science and engineering, both in Switzerland and worldwide. Quantum technology is highly complex and requires pulling together methods from many scientific fields. The unique feature and key strength of the QSE Centre is our ability to bring together experts from different fields already represented here at EPFL to apply their knowledge to quantum science and engineering.”

Research at the Centre will focus on quantum computing algorithms as well as quantum hardware, sensing and communications.

“Our goal here will be to develop and implement quantum algorithms [see box] as well as the computer programs needed to use them,” he added. “Developing, implementing and integrating these tools will eventually lead to a quantum advantage [see box] in all applications requiring a high level of computing power. These applications could include simulating biological molecules to predict disease and develop new drugs, for example, or running simulations of weather and climate change over extended time horizons. Quantum advantage would also benefit much of the research done here at EPFL, such as in physics, chemistry, materials science, engineering, life science, computer science and data science.”

A second research area will involve studying integrated, hybrid and scalable systems using EPFL’s advanced nano-fabrication facilities. A management team composed of professors from EPFL’s School of Basic Sciences, School of Engineering and School of Computer and Communication Sciences will also support the centre.

“Thanks to recent progress in science and engineering, we can now use phenomena described by the laws of quantum mechanics to develop revolutionary new technology for computing, communications and measurement,” said Prof. Savona. “This will lead to major advancements in several fields and bring significant benefits to society.”

The QSE Center will draw on the wide range of skills in quantum science and engineering already available in Switzerland. For instance, it intends to work closely with the University of Geneva through joint R&D projects and jointly hold classes for Master’s and PhD students and will introduce a Master’s program in quantum science and engineering at EPFL.

This follows the launch in May of a Quantum Computing Hub by ETH Zurich and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Switzerland.

ETH Zurich is providing $32m for the Hub in Villgen which will host around 30 researchers to work on quantum computer designs with 100 qubits using both ion traps and superconducting components.

www.epfl.ch

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