25. February 2022
DLR Quantum Computing Initiative

Call for pro­pos­als for the de­vel­op­ment of spin-en­abling tech­nolo­gies

Futuristic technology with qubits
Fu­tur­is­tic tech­nol­o­gy with qubits
Credit: © Production Perig / AdobeStock

Futuristic technology with qubits

Quan­tum com­put­ers work with qubits, which fol­low the laws of quan­tum physics. This paves the way for new al­go­rithms that are not pos­si­ble on con­ven­tion­al com­put­ers. The bits of con­ven­tion­al com­put­ers recog­nise on­ly two states: 0 and 1. Qubits, in con­trast, can have an in­fi­nite num­ber of in­ter­me­di­ate val­ues.
  • The two projects focus on production of qubit hardware and a qualification system for spin qubits.
  • DLR is providing working space at its innovation centres in Hamburg and Ulm.
  • Focus: Quantum technology, quantum computing, digitalisation.

The implementation of qubits based on solid-state spins is a promising technological approach for quantum computing. The core challenges with such systems are the reproducible fabrication and characterisation of qubit hardware as well as efficient qubit coupling. To address these challenges, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has published a call for proposals in connection with the Quantum Computing Initiative.

Within the framework of the DLR Quantum Computing Initiative, prototype quantum computers of different architectures are to be built within the next four years, and the associated technologies and applications are to be developed. DLR is involving companies, start-ups and other research institutions to jointly drive forward the development work. DLR has received funding for this from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz; BMWK) and is awarding contracts to companies on a significant scale through a number of competitive tendering processes. In doing so, DLR is contributing its own expertise and ideas to the research and development work. The current call for proposals is the fifth to date related to quantum computing.

Close cooperation planned within the Quantum Computing Initiative

The current call for proposals relates to subsystems and assistive technologies for spin-based quantum computing. The goal is to support and accelerate the development of complete systems as well as the quality assurance of quantum hardware.

The call addresses two areas of work, each with a total duration of up to three and a half years:

  • Building and operating a modular, customisable qualification system for spin qubits in solids.
  • Manufacturing reproducible quantum hardware devices based on Nitrogen Vacancy (NV) centres in diamond.

DLR will provide space for development and manufacturing at its innovation centres in Ulm and Hamburg.

Close cooperation between the two development areas is envisaged so that the manufacturers can benefit from one another's expertise and results. In addition, they will cooperate with other participants in the Quantum Computing Initiative, particularly the overall system manufacturers for spin-based quantum computing. Exchanges within the quantum computing ecosystem create synergies and advance the development of the overall system.

The deadline for submission is 1 April 2022.

Rapid computations with quantum bits

Quantum computers are an important technology for the future. They can perform calculations and simulations in specific fields of application much faster than conventional supercomputers. Their use is possible, for example, in the transport and energy sectors, but also in fundamental research or even in satellite operations. Quantum computers work on the basis of quantum physics. Their quantum bits (qubits) can not only assume the states 0 and 1, but also intermediate values, distinguishing then from conventional computers and allowing them to be so powerful. At DLR, several institutes are already working with quantum technologies. There is also a great need at DLR to conduct research on and with quantum computers in the future.

  • Katja Lenz
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-5401
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Cologne
  • Robert Axmann
    Head Quan­tum Com­put­ing Ini­tia­tive
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    Ex­ec­u­tive Board Projects and Quan­tum Com­put­ing Ini­tia­tive
    Hansestraße 115
    51149 Cologne
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Qubits (quantum bits) are the smallest computing and storage units of a quantum computer, based on the laws of quantum mechanics. In contrast to the classic bits of conventional digital computers, which can only have states 0 and 1, qubits can assume an infinite number of intermediate values. Two-state quantum systems at the atomic level (for example atoms, ions or light quanta) or in solids (for example in semiconductors or superconductors) serve as qubits.

NV centre

A nitrogen-vacancy centre is a defect in the carbon crystal lattice of diamond consisting of a single nitrogen atom and an adjacent carbon vacancy. The NV centre can be used as a single photon source or for the realisation of quantum computers. Electron spins in the NV centre and surrounding nuclear spins are used as qubits here.

Quantum mechanics / Quantum physics

Branch of physics in which physical processes are described in the world of the very smallest objects, at the atomic level.

Quantum computer

Novel form of computer that works on the basis of the laws of quantum physics. Its quantum bits (qubits) can not only assume the states 0 and 1, but also intermediate values. Quantum computers have the potential to solve certain tasks that classical computers are not able to.