Delft and Copenhagen join forces to create quantum computer


(by: Communication TU Delft)

Delft-based QuTech and the Danish Niels Bohr Institute have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Tuesday 17 March, in the presence of the King and Queen of the Netherlands and the Danish prime minister. Both institutes are internationally renowned for their work in the field of quantum technology. They are looking to work together more closely and to establish broad-based, international cooperation for the development of the first quantum computer. They aim to create a prominent role for Europe in its development.

Quantum computers utilise an unusual characteristic of computer circuits operating on a nanoscale. Not only can quantum bits (qubits) be in one of two definite states (0 or 1), but they can also be both simultaneously. This makes it possible to solve computational problems that are impossible to solve even for the latest supercomputers, e.g. simulating materials with unusual properties such as superconductivity. Many organisations around the world are working hard to design and develop the first of these extraordinary computers, especially in China, Europe and the USA. 

The Niels Bohr Institute was founded in the early 20th century by the famous Danish scientist Niels Bohr – one of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics. 'The institute's Center for Quantum Devices is one of the most highly renowned research groups in the field of quantum bits worldwide. At TU Delft, we work very closely with them on a regular basis,' explains QuTech's Professor Leo Kouwenhoven. 'Together we aim to play a key role in an international network devoted to developing the first quantum computer. We're already working with major companies such as Microsoft, but we want to expand this network far wider. The next few years are crucial to determining where in the world the development of the first quantum computers will be centred. Together, we'll be ensuring that Europe will continue to play a prominent role in the years ahead.'

'QuTech and QDev are both investigating topological quantum computing based on Majoranas, which were first observed in our lab at Delft in 2011,' explains QuTech researcher Maja Cassidy. 'Majoranas have the unusual property of being unaffected by most forms of environmental disturbance, which makes them more robust than other types of qubit. This new partnership agreement will allow us to exchange knowledge and materials, which in turn will accelerate development and discoveries in this field.'

This goal is also being actively supported by the Dutch government. Last year, the government designated QuTech – a partnership between TU Delft and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) – as being one of the four top Dutch projects, supported by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.