August 1, 2022 | DLR Quantum Computing Initiative

Call for proposals for the development of quantum computers based on neutral atoms

  • Qubits based on neutral atoms are considered to be a promising approach for quantum computing.
  • The project under tender envisages three and a half years of work culminating in the creation of systems with 100 qubits.
  • DLR will provide the necessary facilities at its innovation centres in Hamburg and Ulm.
  • Focus: Quantum technology, quantum computing, digitalisation

Prototype Quantum computer 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 Qubit 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 Trap, 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 time 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.

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 mechanics / Quantum physics. Their quantum bits (Qubit) 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.

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Katja Lenz

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Corporate Communications
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne
Tel: +49 2203 601-5401

Robert Axmann

Head Quantum Computing Initiative
Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
Quantum Computing Initiative
Troplowitzstraße 20, 22529 Hamburg