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ERC Starting Grant for Menno Veldhorst: Universal quantum computation with error protection

The European Research Council has awarded an ERC Starting Grant to Menno Veldhorst. The grant (1.9 million euros for a five-year program) will allow him to pursue ground-breaking ideas for  the building blocks of future quantum computers.

The promise of quantum computation stems from the remarkable behavior of the quantum world, where quantum states can be in superposition and entangled with each other. The states are also extremely fragile and the challenge is to gain control over them. In this project, Menno Veldhorst (senior scientist at QuTech and roadmap leader QuTech Academy) aims to combine two promising approaches to find out whether their individual limitations can be overcome, to build a universal quantum computer with inherent protection against noise.

Quantum information can be encoded on several types of qubits. Encoding on the spin states of an electron provides a universal set for operations, but interactions between spins are short-ranged, and scaling qubits to large numbers is thus challenging. Encoding on Majorana qubits could make quantum information robust against noise, but with this approach not all desired operations can be executed. Menno: “The grand goal of this project is therefore to coherently transfer quantum information between spin and Majorana qubits. The theoretical idea has been around for a while, but only very recently a suitable material system for the implementation has emerged: strained germanium.”

“This research is presently at a fundamental stage and is thereby bound to produce exciting results where new physics may arise,” said Menno. Nonetheless, the fabrication itself is compatible with standard semiconductor manufacturing. “Our long-term dream is to create a powerful platform where complex and emerging systems can be created, simulated, and computed to advance our general understanding of physics.”

Visit the ERC website for more information about the ERC grants and their winners.

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