Prototype quantum computers with a number of different architectures are to be developed over the next four years as part of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Quantum Computing Initiative. DLR has published another call for proposals in this area, with the aim of acquiring a prototype quantum processor demonstrator based on neutral atoms. The system is to be expanded in several phases to 100 qubits or more. The project under tender will run for three and a half years.
Atomic shells become computational building blocks
Quantum computing is still in its early stages of development. There are various concepts for developing quantum computers, and it remains unclear which route will ultimately prevail in the market. Therefore, DLR is maintaining a broad-based approach and supporting a range of technological options in parallel, including quantum computers based on neutral atoms. Here, in a similar way to ion traps, information is stored and manipulated within the electron states of atoms. Individual qubits of this kind can be controlled using lasers. In order to allow two qubits to interact with each other – an essential function for a quantum computer – the atoms are placed in what are known as Rydberg states. Here, the outermost electron is significantly further away from the nucleus than it would normally be.
"One- and two-qubit gates have been demonstrated as the basic building block of a quantum computer based on neutral atoms. However, limited coherence times and gate performance still pose a challenge. Scaling up to a viable quantum computer requires further improvements that will be addressed by industry as part of this project," says Karla Loida, Project Manager for the Quantum Computing Initiative.
Competitive contract award procedure
DLR is involving companies, start-ups and other research institutions in its Quantum Computing Initiative so that all of the partners can make significant advances together. DLR has received funding for this purpose from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz; BMWK), enabling it to award large-scale contracts to companies through a competitive tendering process. DLR is also contributing its own capabilities and expertise to the research and development work. The current call for proposals is its sixth for quantum computing to date. DLR will provide the necessary facilities at its innovation centres in Hamburg and Ulm.
The deadline for submission of applications to participate is 2 September 2022.