Researchers around the world are searching for suitable ways to develop a quantum computer. There are currently a number of approaches to creating the building blocks from which the supercomputers of the future might be made. However, no matter what the approach, developing a quantum computer that is capable of tackling unresolved, important real-world problems presents an immense challenge. The main problem lies in the limited scalability of the existing systems.
That is where the NCCR “SPIN: Spin Qubits in Silicon” comes in. The goal is to develop an exceptionally scalable technology to enable the construction of a universally usable quantum computer. Professor Richard J. Warburton and his team are pinning their hopes on silicon, a semiconductor that has been a proven material in the industry for decades. They are convinced that silicon technology is highly promising in enabling the on-chip integration of billions of components, leading to a particularly high-performance quantum computer.
The researchers in the “SPIN” team have been successfully working on spin qubits in quantum computing for many years, though their work has focused primarily on other types of semiconductors. Producing silicon nanostructures for qubits is especially difficult and is therefore being carried out in collaboration with the IBM research laboratory in Rüschlikon. This industrial research lab has the necessary expertise in silicon nano fabrication and will, amog other things, take on manufacturing the prototypes using silicon components.
Initially, the main objective of the NCCR “SPIN” will be to develop reliable, fast, compact and scalable spin qubits in silicon. In the medium term, the results should make it possible to use spin qubits to perform calculations that would be impossible without a quantum computer. The long-term goal to which the NCCR “SPIN” wants to make a fundamental contribution is the creation of a universally usable quantum computer with more than a thousand logical qubits that are each based on a large number of spin qubits and work with no errors due to “quantum error correction”.
The funding of an NCCR is spread over three funding phases, each lasting four years. The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) is supporting the NCCR with CHF 17 million in the first funding phase from 2020 to 2023.
The NCCR “SPIN” is led by Professor Richard J. Warburton with the support of Professor Daniel Loss (Co-Director), Dr. Heike Riel from IBM Research – Zurich (Deputy Director) and Professor Jelena Klinovaja (Deputy Co-Director).
A total of 19 research group heads are involved: seven from the University of Basel, six from IBM Research – Zurich, four from ETH Zurich, and two from EPF Lausanne. In addition to the collaboration between academia and industry, the NCCR “SPIN” is characterized by very close links between theory and experimentation.
It brings together academic and industrial partners and combines knowledge gained over decades of research into quantum computers on the one hand, and into the miniaturization of silicon nanostructures on the other. The NCCR “SPIN” team consists of experts from various disciplines, such as quantum physics, engineering sciences, computer science and materials science.