24.10.2018 09:31

Excellence Strategy of Germany’s federal and state governments

HHU physicists part of Cluster of Excellence in the field of quantum information processing

By: Editorial staff

The universities of Aachen, Bonn and Cologne have been successful in the Excellence Strategy competition with their Cluster of Excellence entitled “Matter and Light for Quantum Computing” (ML4Q). The researchers are focussing on the next level of data processing and dissemination, i.e. quantum computers and networks. Professor Dagmar Bruß and Professor Reinhold Egger, physicists at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU), will be in charge of two sub-projects. Work will start in early 2019.

Professor Dagmar Bruß (Institute of Theoretical Physics III) and Professor Reinhold Egger (Institute of Theoretical Physics IV) are in charge of two sub-projects in the new “ML4Q” Cluster of Excellence. (Photo: HHU / Christoph Kawan)

Computers and networks have radically changed our lives. However, after decades of fast-paced development, the limitations of this technology, which to date has continued to be successful thanks to ever compacter circuits based on smaller and smaller structures, are now clear to see. This is the reason why researchers in different fields are working on new approaches. One of them is the “quantum computer”.

It is already foreseeable that such computers, which are based on the laws of quantum mechanics, can contribute to solving important challenges in the future, whereby it is not just a matter of further increasing computing power. Quantum computers are able to tackle certain problems because they work in a completely different way. In addition, quantum networks (data networks that use the laws of quantum mechanics) can make a major contribution to fast and above all inherently secure communication.

With the ML4Q Cluster of Excellence funded in the framework of the Excellence Strategy of Germany’s federal and state governments, the universities of Aachen, Bonn and Cologne, together with Forschungszentrum Jülich, want to further develop quantum technology on a major scale. Spokesperson for the cluster is Professor Yoichi Ando from the University of Cologne. Theoretical physicists at HHU will be responsible for implementing two sub-projects in the Cluster of Excellence.

Under the title “Multipartite Quantum Networks”, Professor Dagmar Bruß (Institute of Theoretical Physics III) aims to investigate how the properties of quantum systems can be used to advantage in networks. These advantages can lie in more secure data interchange as well as the stability, speed and complexity of the network. In this context, the working group led by Professor Bruß plans to develop new quantum information protocols that describe secure communication between several stakeholders. The researchers also want to analyse the possibilities and limitations of an experimental quantum network to be developed in the framework of ML4Q and study the scalability of quantum networks from small to large.

Also within the Cluster of Excellence, Professor Reinhold Egger (Institute of Theoretical Physics IV) is dealing with “topological quantum information processing”. His work is concerned in particular with what are referred to as Majorana fermions as potential building blocks for quantum mechanical bits (“qubits”, i.e. the smallest units of quantum information). The exotic Majorana particles can be produced in special superconductors. They always occur in pairs, whereby the two particles can be far apart from each other. Such a Majorana pair as a qubit is protected against typical ambient influences through this spatial separation. Several experimental working groups intend to produce Majorana qubits in the framework of ML4Q and Professor Egger and his colleagues will create the corresponding theoretical models. In so doing, they will contribute to a better understanding of the planned experiments.

Further information on the ML4Q Cluster of Excellence: ml4q.uni-koeln.de

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