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Stephanie Wehner receives NWO Vici grant for innovative research line

Portrait Photo of Stephanie Wehner
Stephanie Wehner
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Today the Dutch Research Council NWO announces that Stephanie Wehner will receive a Vici grant. The grant is aimed at senior researchers who have successfully demonstrated the ability to develop their own innovative line of research. Wehner is one of twelve researchers in the Science Domain who receive this grant.

The NWO Talent Programme offers personal grants to talented, creative researchers. This enables them to conduct the research of their choice. The Talent Scheme has three funding instruments (Veni, Vidi, Vici) tailored to various phases in researchers’ scientific careers. The Vici grant targets senior researchers. In doing so, they have also supervised young researchers. Researchers who receive a Vici grant can further develop their research group, often in anticipation of a tenured professorship, if they do not already have one.

Wehner’s research line: towards a universally programmable Quantum Internet

The vision of a Quantum Internet is to enable radically new Internet applications by bringing fundamental elements of quantum mechanics—entanglement—to Internet users around the world. Amongst many other new applications, such entanglement makes it impossible to eavesdrop on communication. Unfortunately, we currently lack the knowledge to program and control these new types of networks. The gap between hardware and usable software applications must be closed first. This project will develop the first architecture that can make the Quantum Internet programmable so that anyone can develop useful software applications in the future.

Excitation and looking forward

Highlights in Wehner’s career are the development of the world’s first link layer protocol for quantum networks. Like classical link layer protocols such as Ethernet or WiFi this provides a robust abstraction away from the underlying quantum hardware that will build upon in this grant. Also she set forth stages of development for a quantum internet, guiding its future development.

Wehner says about receiving this grant: “I am very excited about receiving the Vici grant, which will allow my group and me to lay the foundations for quantum network architectures. This will make large-scale quantum networks of the future available to end-users, by making them programmable in high-level software. We also hope to enlarge the quantum computer science community working on quantum networking, by developing an initial theory of performance analysis for quantum networks.”

Wehner is both part of QuTech—a collaboration between the TU Delft and TNO—as well as the Quantum Computer Science of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics & Computer Science at TU Delft.

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