Hamburg now banking on quantum computing
The Germany Ministry of Economics is to put EUR 878 million towards the development of quantum technologies and quantum computing through 2025, a press release said Tuesday (May 11, 2021). Most of the funding, EUR 740 million, will go to the German Aerospace Center (DLR). DLR will team up with large industrial partners, SMEs, start-ups, and research organisations to form two consortiums tasked with building a quantum computer in Germany and developing the relevant software and applications. The funding holds enormous opportunities for innovation in Hamburg as it allows the city to input its expertise in research and knowledge transfer on quantum computing.
Hamburg to drive quantum computing
"Quantum technology will be of outstanding importance in the coming years, and Germany will have to compete internationally in this field. That's why we in Hamburg fully support the federal government's initiative and are pushing the topic of quantum computing intensely in the Hanseatic city as well," said Michael Westhagemann, Senator for Economics and Innovation. Apart from the universities, the city will also lend its support to Hamburg-based companies and startups to develop the technology in the future.
Universities conduct research on quantum technologies
The Centre for Optical Quantum Technologies (ZOQ) and the Institute for Laser Physics (ILP) at the University of Hamburg put the city among the leaders of quantum technologies. The Technical University of Hamburg (TU Hamburg) applies quantum computing to digital modelling, optimisation and simulation of various processes and systems to form the basis of research in several fields and are the subject of DFG-funded research projects. Prof. Dr. Andreas Timm-Giel, President of TU Hamburg, noted: "Quantum computing is a promising and exciting approach to solving complex technical problems and addressing the societal challenges of our time. We at TU Hamburg want to develop the necessary methods and processes for this with partners in science and industry." TU's micro systems technology and integrated photonics allow the university to make an important contribution to the development of quantum computer, Timm-Giel added.
Alliance between science and industry
The City of Hamburg wants to consider knowledge transfer and areas of application in a joint network between science and industry from the very start, according to Katharina Fegebank, Senator for Science, Research and Equality. The Hamburg-based NXP Semiconductors, for instance, can contribute hardware and develop software for the research and development of quantum computer technology. Against the backdrop of the crisis induced by the pandemic, Hamburg is investing an additional EUR 20 million this year in innovation funding via IFB Hamburg (Hamburg Investment and Development Bank) to benefit forward-looking topics such as artificial intelligence or quantum computing. "Hamburg has outstanding scientific expertise in quantum computing with globally leading research institutions and diverse funding projects. We want to advance research on quantum computing in a technology-open manner with this great know-how," said Fegebank.
What is quantum computing?
- Quantum computers promise to push the boundaries of computational efficiency and solve problems that overwhelm today's systems.
- Information in a quantum computer is handled quantum mechanically; registers and memory contents can contain multiple values simultaneously in a superposition, and instructions affect all of these values simultaneously. Thus, even a single quantum processor is intrinsically highly parallel.
- Quibits form the basis for quantum computers. The qubit is the counterpart to classical bits in conventional computers. It is the smallest possible memory unit and defines a measure of quantum information simultaneously.
- The great susceptibility of quantum to interference poses one of the biggest problems to developing quantum computers. This requires extensive error correction, which is not possible at present.
- A universally usable quantum computer is expected to be developed by 2031 or 2036.
Status of quantum computing in Germany
- Germany and Europe have a strong scientific base that must be exploited for quantum software and hardware.
- Research into technologies for quantum computer hardware is underway in Germany.
- An industrial innovation system and a a user community have yet to be developed.
- A broad-based strategic initiative on quantum computing offers an opportunity to develop a quantum technology ecosystem for economic use in future.