28. November 2022
DLR Quantum Computing Initiative (QCI)

Call for pro­pos­als for the de­vel­op­ment of quan­tum com­put­ing with sol­id-state spins

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.
  • Two sub-projects for implementation based on solid-state spins.
  • The quantum computers will be developed and put into operation at DLR’s innovation centres.
  • Focus: Quantum technology, quantum computing, digitalisation

Quantum computer prototypes with a range of architectures are to be built over the course of four years as part of the Quantum Computing Initiative at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). DLR has announced another call for proposals in this area, this time for two sub-projects. The first sub-project focuses on a transportable demonstrator for training purposes, which should be available within a year. A prototype of a quantum processor based on solid-state spins will be developed and built in the second sub-project. Over several phases, the system will then be expanded to 50 qubits or more. The project under tender will run for three-and-a-half years.

Spins become computational building blocks

The field of quantum computing is developing rapidly, with a diverse range of technological approaches playing a role at different stages of development. As yet, it is unclear which concepts will be best suited to future application, so DLR is casting the net wide and pursuing a number of approaches, including quantum computers based on solid-state spins.

Individual spins serve as a qubit and can be manipulated with the help of lasers, microwaves or radio waves. Spin systems can be created by defects in crystals, with quantum dots or with structures in other semiconductor materials. To allow two qubits in such solids to interact with each other, the qubits are placed a few nanometres apart. A qubit ‘senses’ the spins of the others and is influenced by its ‘neighbours’.

“Such qubits in semiconductor materials show promising properties. We have also seen immense advances in the semiconductor industry in recent decades. The existing infrastructure accelerates technology transfer from research to application,” explains Karla Loida, Project Leader in the DLR Quantum Computing Initiative. “However, a functioning quantum computer still requires improved precision in the manufacture and positioning of qubits. This will be achieved by our industrial partner as part of this project.”

Competitive procedure for awarding contracts

DLR is involving companies, quantum computing start-ups and other research institutions in the DLR Quantum Computing Initiative (QCI) in order to make significant advances together. DLR has been granted funding for this purpose by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), enabling it to award large-scale contracts to companies through tenders. Five contracts were recently awarded for the creation of prototype quantum computers based on ion traps. These contracts amount to a total of 208.5 million euros.

The current call for proposals is the seventh for quantum computing to date. DLR will provide the necessary facilities at its innovation centres in Hamburg and Ulm.

The deadline for submission is 16 January 2023.

Rapid calculations with qubits

Quantum computers are a key technology for the future: they can carry out calculations and simulations in specific areas of application much faster than conventional supercomputers. They can be used, for instance, in the transport and energy sector, but also in basic research or to operate satellites. Quantum computers work on the basis of quantum physics. Their quantum bits (qubits) can assume the states 0 and 1 at the same time – not just one after the other, like conventional computers. This in turn makes quantum computers extremely powerful. Several DLR institutes are already working with quantum technologies. Looking ahead, there is also a great need at DLR to conduct research on and with quantum computers.

  • Katja Lenz
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    DLR Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-5401
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Cologne
  • Felix Knoke
    Com­mu­ni­ca­tion DLR Quan­tum Com­put­ing Ini­tia­tive
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Me­dia Re­la­tions
    Telephone: +49 30 67055-8417
    Rutherfordstraße 2
    12489 Berlin-Adlershof
  • 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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