Research environment in quantum computing at Forschungszentrum Jülich and inauguration of an Institute for Quantum Computing
Since 2007, Forschungszentrum Jülich and RWTH Aachen University form the partnership JARA – Jülich Aachen Research Alliance. JARA comprises six thematic sections: “Fundamentals of Future Information Technologies – JARA-FIT”, „Sustainable Energy - JARA-ENERGY“, „Particle Physics and Antimatter - JARA-FAME“, “Soft Matter – JARA-SOFT”, “Translational Brain Medicine – JARA-BRAIN”, and the recently founded “Center for Simulation and Data Science – JARA-CSD”. JARA resulted in many new research activities and partnerships. JARA helped fostering the DFG-funded Excellence Cluster “Matter and Light for Quantum Computing – ML4Q” with partners at the Universities of Bonn, Cologne and Düsseldorf. The Peter Grünberg Institute (PGI) is vital partner of this excellence cluster (https://ml4q.de/).
The mission of the Peter Grünberg Institute (PGI) is the discovery and interpretation of new phenomena in condensed matter, the development of novel materials and functional nanostructures as well as innovation in experimental and theoretical methods, all with a special emphasis on potential long-term applications in information technology and related fields. The PGI combines 11 scientific departments with complementary research foci (https://www.fz- juelich.de/portal/EN/institutes/PeterGruenbergInstitute/_node.html). The head of the departments hold joint appointments with nearby universities. In particular, the PGI delivers strong contributions to the field of “Quantum Materials” and plans to strengthen its activity on “Quantum Computing Devices”. Here a new focus lies on the integration of novel devices to realize experimental concepts for quantum computing systems within the PGI and in close collaboration with its academic partners. In this context a new institute -- Institute for Quantum Computing, will be inaugurated to strengthen the experimental efforts towards multi-qubit devices.
Within the EU granted flagship on quantum computing, the proposal (OpenSuperQ, http://opensuperq.eu/) on the realization of a superconducting multi qubit system has been approved together with the ETH Zürich, Chalmers University, the University of Saarbrücken and other partners. The task of this project is to operate superconducting (transmon) multi-qubit circuits as a central facility, serving as a competence center for the flagship. This lab will be a central part of the institute of quantum information.
The new Institute for Quantum Computing will receive its basic funding at Forschungszentrum Jülich through the program oriented funding of the Helmholtz Association (https://www.helmholtz.de/forschung/programmorientierte_foerderung/). The institute will be part of the research program Natural, Artificial and Cognitive Information Processing of the Helmholtz Association. This program explores quantum materials to unlock new paradigms arising in physical systems – including spin, topology, configurations and correlations – as a future means to store and process information and will scale up quantum information processing devices, develop qubit control electronics and build a prototype quantum computer. The program combines the strength of PGI with partner institutes at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB).
The Forschungszentrum Jülich is planning to establish a Helmholtz Quantum Center (HQC). The concept foresees a technology platform consisting of a new building and state-of-the-art experimental equipment as the center of gravity for research and development in quantum computation within the Forschungszentrum Jülich, the Helmholtz Association and its partners. The science case will be developed in six Research Areas:
- Superconducting qubits and qubit systems - towards a superconducting quantum computer
- Semiconductor spin qubits for scaling to millions of qubits
- Development of fault-protected qubits based on topological insulators
- Quantum materials, designed quantum systems, and dynamic control
- Optical connectivity and quantum networking
- Integration and control systems.
The Helmholtz Quantum Center will be managed by the Peter Grünberg Institute and organized together with its local on-site partners. HQC will combine theoretical and experimental solid state physicists, quantum computer technologists, and electrical engineers. It will accommodate institutes in the field, in particular the new Institute for Quantum Computing, and will host the JARA-Institute for Quantum Information. HQC will be open to regional universities, national and European partners, both from academia and industry, based on joint projects in specific research areas. As the experimental and technological backbone of the center, Technology Clusters will be established, covering the full range from materials processing and device fabrication to multi-qubit test facilities:
- Technology Cluster for material design and fabrication
- Technology Cluster for spatial- and time-resolved characterisation of quantum materials
- Technology Cluster for optical connectivity
- Technology Cluster for qubit experiments and integration
- Technology Cluster for scalable control electronics
The Technology Clusters will be interlinked with the ability to process qubit devices at the Helmholtz Nano Facility (HNF) and access to quantum computer simulators and devices through the new Jülich UNified Infrastructure for Quantum computing (JUNIQ) currently set up under the leadership of the Jülich Supercomputing Centre. Moreover, the planned building will include laboratory and office space for guest scientists, as well as dedicated meeting areas for the exchange of scientific ideas. The building is planned to be fully operational by 2025.
The Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC) provides supercomputers of the highest performance class on a national and European level and enables scientists and engineers to solve highly complex problems using simulations. JSC will host JUNIQ, which plans to offer European users from science and industry user support and access to quantum computer simulators and quantum computing devices at various stages of maturity, including OpenSuperQ. Usage of and therefore also education and knowledge dissemination with regard to the various quantum computing devices are key elements in JUNIQ. JUNIQ will provide remote access to quantum computers developed by HQC, with the development and implementation of a general cloud-based access system with secure authentication and authorization as well as the secure transfer of data. Furthermore, there has been much interest at the JSC, and within the international community, in developing quantum algorithms that will be useful at the level of 50-100 qubits; for example, there have been notable positive results in the area of variational quantum chemistry algorithms that can already attack very simple molecular-structure problems at the few-qubit level.
Building a quantum computer poses a number of challenges that go far beyond the capabilities of any single laboratory or center in Germany or Europe. Tackling these challenges requires instead an ecosystem of labs focused on specific tasks and coordinated by a few centers of gravity, which, apart from pursuing in-depth research, have the critical mass to collect and test the outcomes of the labs in a system context. Forming such a critical mass for use-inspired large-scale research and providing the required infrastructure with a long-term perspective is central to the mission of the Helmholtz Association. The aim of Forschungszentrum Jülich and HQC is to establish a strong, internationally renowned and visible research center on quantum information in Germany, linking quantum materials research with device and systems fabrication, the co-design of hardware and software, as well as testing and user facilities.
The new institute for quantum computing will be at the core of the HQC activity providing a user facility for academic partners and hosting the experimental base for the research of the Peter Grünberg Institute on quantum computing as well as interlinking with the Jülich UNified Infrastructure for Quantum computing.