The Helmholtz Association’s central infrastructure for quantum computing is being established at Forschungszentrum Jülich as a national priority: the Helmholtz Quantum Center (HQC). Research covers the entire spectrum of quantum computing – from research into quantum materials to the development of prototypes and their application. HQC is closely linked to the Jülich Supercomputing Centre. The Helmholtz Association is funding the project with almost € 50 million.
“Our goal is to use the HQC to catalyse a kind of Linux of quantum computing."
Prof. Stefan Tautz, Peter Grünberg Institute
In particular, the HQC will investigate different types of qubits – the quantum computer equivalent of classical computer bits. “Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. It is still completely open which concept will eventually prevail,” explains Prof. Stefan Tautz from the Peter Grünberg Institute (PGI-3), who is representing the scientists during the launch phase of the HQC.
The HQC will work closely with the Quantum Flagship of the EU, in which various Jülich experts are involved. In the flagship project OpenSuperQ, for example, Jülich scientists and collaborating European partners are investigating superconducting qubits. A new Jülich research team headed by Prof. Pavel Bushev is already testing small prototypes of superconducting quantum computer chips developed by Swedish partners in the OpenSuperQ project. An alternative platform – atomic qubits in optical traps – is being developed by Jülich scientists and their partners in the flagship project PASQuanS.
Qubits, which consist of superconducting circuits, need bitter cold: about -273 degrees Celsius, which is about almost 0 degrees Kelvin. Complex and expensive cooling systems are necessary to reach such temperatures. Researchers from Jülich, Münster and Moscow found out that superconducting qubits could possibly be produced not only from the usual low-temperature superconductors, but also from high-temperature superconductors. In experiments with nanowires made of the high-temperature superconductor yttrium barium copper oxide, quantum effects already occurred at 12 to 13 degrees Kelvin. A much smaller and cheaper cooling technology is sufficient to achieve such temperatures of -260 to -261 degrees Celsius. The researchers led by Prof. Rafal Dunin-Borkowski from Jülich’s Ernst Ruska-Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons assume that high-temperature superconductors could even increase the number of qubits on a chip and the computing speed.
Photos: Forschungszentrum Jülich/Sascha Kreklau, Everett Historical/shutterstock.com