Quantum computer prototypes with a range of architectures are to be built over the course of four years as part of the DLR Quantum Computing Initiative (QCI) 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.