On 21 February, King Willem Alexander opened the Microsoft Quantum Lab on the campus of TU Delft. With the lab, Microsoft strengthens quantum research in Delft, a research area where TU Delft ranks among the world’s best. The QuTech Research Institute, a collaboration between TU Delft and TNO, is working with industry on the development of quantum computers and a quantum internet. Microsoft, which now has its own laboratory in Delft, is one of the most important companies that collaborates intensively with Delft quantum researchers.
There are high expectations of the quantum computer: it should enable us to perform calculations that we cannot do with current technology. “I am thinking of intricate global climate change models, for example, or models of the immune system’s capability to destroy cancer cells”, said Rector Magnificus Tim van der Hagen during the opening. “We can also use quantum technology to make inherently secure internet connections.”
Delivering on these promises will require major investments in money, time and effort in the coming years. “The development of the quantum computer requires a joint effort from science, government and industry”, says Ronald Hanson, scientific director of QuTech. “We are very pleased with the support we receive from the Dutch government, but even more cooperation – at national and international level – is certainly needed in the coming years.”
Cooperation with industry is essential in this respect, which is why TU Delft and TNO are pleased with the arrival of the Microsoft Quantum Lab on campus. “In Delft, we are building an innovation ecosystem around quantum technology, a Quantum Campus, where all parties will join forces to realise the quantum computer and the quantum internet”, says Hanson.
The Microsoft Quantum Lab will be working on qubits – the building blocks of quantum computers – based on majorana particles. This will be done under the leadership of Leo Kouwenhoven, who found the first evidence of the elusive majorana particle in 2012 at TU Delft. Majorana-based qubits are one of the three roadmaps QuTech is working on. Hanson: “Majorana particles are a potential candidate for qubits, and in this area we are collaborating closely with Microsoft. We are also working with other partners on other options for making qubits, for example with nitrogen atoms in diamond or with currents in superconducting circuits. The interaction between the different groups, and the exchange of knowledge between the various roadmaps make Delft an important place for quantum research. This position has been strengthened further with the establishment of the Microsoft lab.”
photo: Marco de Swart