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Icon status for Quantum Technology

[13-11-2014]

(by: TUDelft/TNW/Communication)

The Dutch government has awarded the status of National Icon to the research into Quantum Technology (QuTech). Minister Henk Kamp announced this today during the Innovation Conference in the Ridderzaal in The Hague, in the presence of King Willem-Alexander. "With quantum technology, the Netherlands belongs to the digital top. Due to the many potential applications in ICT and medicine, among other fields, this technology promises to make an important contribution to dealing with global social challenges," Minister Kamp said. The research into the quantum computer, which is led by Prof. Leo Kouwenhoven, is one of the four projects that the Dutch government expects will (potentially) have a major social and economic impact. The government therefore wants to provide these projects with additional support.

QuTech
TU Delft President Dirk Jan van den Berg responded with delight: "I regard QuTech's National Icon status as an important source of support and also as a form of recognition for the exceptional scientific work on quantum technology that is being performed in the Netherlands. Primarily by the group led by Prof. Leo Kouwenhoven, of course, but also by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) and the many partners that have joined QuTech." QuTech is a collaboration between TU Delft and TNO, which involves quantum researchers, electronics experts and various companies working together intensively.

Quantum Computer
The aim of QuTech is the development of the quantum computer and a 'quantum internet'. The quantum computer makes use of the unique properties of materials on the nano-scale and can solve mathematical problems that are much too complex for existing computers. This will, for example, make it possible to find materials with special properties, which can lead to the creation of more efficient batteries or medicines. Furthermore, a network of quantum computers can send information by means of 'quantum teleportation', which will prevent the information from being intercepted by third parties.

An important moment
"We have arrived at an important moment in history," claims Leo Kouwenhoven. "The concept of the quantum computer has already existed for more than 30 years, but was only a theory until recently. Science and technology have progressed to the point where it is really not so much a question of whether we can build it, but mainly a question of when. And also who will build it, of course. The Netherlands can play a significant role in this and the status of National Icon is therefore a very important source of support for us."

Who is working on the Quantum Computer?
A team of researchers with different backgrounds is working on the quantum computer at TU Delft and TNO. The core of a quantum computer is not formed by normal bits, which is the case in a conventional computer, but rather by special quantum bits. These bits are manufactured in the clean rooms of TNO and TU Delft under the supervision of experts like Arnold Storm of TNO and Ryoichi Ishihara of TU Delft. Lieven Vandersypen and Leo DiCarlo are working on designing and testing different types of quantum bits in small quantum chips with support from Duije Deurslo of TNO The Hague, among others. In order to ensure that these quantum chips work properly, electronic components that function at a very low temperature are required; this is the research domain of Edoardo CharbonRonald Hanson and Stephanie Wehner are working on the creation of a Quantum Internet. A broader overview of the researchers involved is available at www.qutech.nl.

Collaboration with businesses is very important for QuTech. The researchers therefore collaborate with various Dutch and international companies, including multinationals like Microsoft and Dutch high-tech companies and starters.  

Four icons
The Dutch government has designated four National Icons. In the R&D breakthrough technology category, both QuTech and the research into the growth of stem cells were designated. The status was awarded to the hybrid potato in the Industrial Innovation category, while the 'Bioneedle' was designated in the Inventor category.

Watch the broadcast of De Wereld Draait Door (in Dutch) about the four Icons here, with a commentary on the quantum computer by Leo Kouwenhoven. 

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