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The Challenges of Quantum Technology

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When large amounts of money are invested in the research of small things, it is because our leaders firmly believe that our society and economic future can be shaped this way. These “small things” mean the objects and phenomena of the quantum world. Science is increasingly succeeding in taking control of this world. The range of topics spans from quantum communication with its inherent secure data transmission to quantum computers for unimagined processing power and to quantum simulations of chemical reactions and quantum sensors for medical diagnostics. Great technological promise with enormous economic potential is popping up in these fields. This potential is being raised on a large scale by the European Commission’s levied billion euro “Quantum Technologies Flagship” funding program and beyond that, it’s being pushed forward in flanking national funding programs. At the same time, not only large companies with long traditions, but also young start-ups are pushing developments which will bring entirely new products to the market which are based on quantum technology (QT).

 

Just as PTB was once – thanks to its measuring skills – at the beginning of quantum mechanics, PTB is now driving the second quantum revolution’s wave of metrological possibilities – with the next generations of atomic clocks, even more precise electrical standards and innovative measurement capabilities in medicine. At the same time, the metrological fundamental research leads to technological applications. To make these applications available for the economic development of QT, the Quantum Technology Competence Center (QTZ) was recently founded.

News

Eine frohe Botschaft macht die Runde: Bis 2025 wollen niedersächsische Forschende einen 50-Qubit-Quantencomputer realisieren. Aus diesem Grund besuchte der niedersächsische Wissenschaftsminister Björn Thümler am Montag Wissenschaftsstandorte sowohl in Hannover als auch die PTB in Braunschweig. Mit von der Partie waren die Präsidentin der TU Braunschweig Prof. Dr. Angela Ittel, PTB-Vizepräsident...

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For the first time, physicists have succeeded in successfully realizing a new method for cooling protons using laser-cooled ions - in this case beryllium ions. The innovative feature of the new system is that the two particle types are located in spatially separated traps. This means it is now possible to provide the cooling effect with the help of an electrical resonant circuit over a distance of...

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Prof. Dr. Piet O. Schmidt

It is about fundamental questions of modern fundamental physics: Is our description of nature complete? What is dark matter? Do natural constants change with time or place? Theoretical predictions attest optical clocks based on highly charged ions a 20-fold sensitivity to these effects compared to previous clocks. With a concept for the first-time realization of such special clocks, in which the...

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Variabilität bei nichtinvasiv gemessenen schnellen Hirnströmen

The brain processes information using both slow and fast currents. Until now, researchers had to use electrodes placed inside the brain in order to measure the latter. For the first time, researchers from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), Berlin Institute, successfully visualized these fast brain signals from the outside – and found a...

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A natural constant should always have the same value, regardless of when or where it has been determined. Einstein’s famous general theory of relativity exploits this fundamental assumption, which is known as local position invariance (LPI). The validity of this assumption has now been confirmed by means of a comparison of optical ytterbium clocks at PTB with an accuracy increased by a factor of...

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TimekeepersTimekeepers

Timely: Excited atom (glowing) in an optical clock
Timely: Excited atom (glowing) in an optical clock

If you think of passing hours, minutes and seconds when you imagine a clock, you’re not wrong, but not completely right, either. When clocks measure time very accurately, scientists can do much more than just state the time:

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Quantum magnetic-field sensorsQuantum magnetic-field sensors

In twos: Pairs of electrons tunnel through a barrier in a SQUID.
In twos: Pairs of electrons tunnel through a barrier in a SQUID.

While homo sapiens may not be able to detect magnetic fields, as “homo technicus”, human beings make use of a wide variety of technical sensors. Quantum effects are increasingly being exploited to collect information unavailable by conventional means – for example, in order to detect magnetic fields in living organisms or to use such fields for medical imaging purposes.

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Walking into the trapWalking into the trap

Trapped: The chip structure of an ion trap
Trapped: The chip structure of an ion trap

The discovery that the world is governed by principles of quantum mechanics is over 100 years old. Today, we take many technological applications of quantum physics for granted – from lasers and semiconductor technology to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The applications of second-generation quantum technology currently emerging go a step further, allowing individual quantum objects to be controlled and deliberately exploiting basic quantum effects for technological innovations in the near and distant future.

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Electrical Quantum MetrologyElectrical Quantum Metrology

electrons are tunneling through a SET device
Counted: electrons are tunneling through a SET device.

Historically speaking, not much time has passed since Nicola Tesla dazzled audiences with his controlled bursts of lightning and ghostly seeming light effects and a certain Thomas Alva Edison electrified the industrialized world with his inventions. The discovery and technical utilization of electricity took off at the end of the 19th century and conquered more and more conventional technical terrain until, in the late 1940s, the transistor was invented at Bell Labs in New Jersey. The transistor gave electricity its first quantum-mechanical form.

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Less light! The key to quantum cryptographyLess light! The key to quantum cryptography

In particles: Light as a stream of individual photons
In particles: Light as a stream of individual photons

Information is the most important resource of our time. Enormous amounts of data are collected, processed in computers and exchanged via glass fibers, the air and satellites. We are caught up in information flows that never break and that race around the length and breadth of the globe at the speed of light. Much of this data has to be exchanged between the sender and the receiver in a safe way, as not everything that is communicated is allowed or supposed to be in the public eye. This includes patients’ data in the field of medicine as well as financial data that is communicated with and between banks and highly sensitive data from the fields of politics and the economy. Forms of communication that are protected from unauthorized access are necessary for all these data transfers.

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The Quantum Technology Competence Center (QTZ)The Quantum Technology Competence Center (QTZ)

Architectural sketch of the new QTZ building in Braunschweig
Architectural sketch of the new QTZ building in Braunschweig

Only very few people have so far become accustomed to the phenomena of the quantum world. Yet the technologies that come out of this world are to be used by everyone. PTB is therefore specifically expanding its fundamental research and its highly specialized services to include a Quantum Technology Competence Center (QTZ) that focusses on applications. Work on setting up this center began in 2019, and the QTZ is going to form an important basis for industrial developments of quantum technologies. Special focus will be placed on start-ups as well as on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

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Coordinator of the Steering Group for Quantum Technology

Coordinator of the Steering Group for Quantum Technology

Dr. Nicolas Spethmann
Phone: +49 531 592-2009
E-mail: nicolas.spethmann(at)ptb.de

Steering Group Members / Contact Persons

Dr. Jörn Stenger
(Chairperson Opens internal link in current windowPresidential Board)
Phone: +49 531 592-3000
E-mail: joern.stenger(at)ptb.de

Hon.-Dr. Dr. Uwe Siegner
(Head of Opens internal link in current windowDivision 2 | Electricity)
Phone: +49 531 592-2010
E-mail: uwe.siegner(at)ptb.de

Hon.-Prof. Dr. Stefan Kück
(Head of Opens internal link in current windowDivision 4 | Optics)
Phone: +49 531 592-2010
E-mail: uwe.siegner(at)ptb.de

Prof. Dr. Piet Schmidt
(Head of the Opens internal link in current windowInstituts QUEST „Institute for Experimental Quantum Metrology)
Phone: +49 531 592-4700
E-mail: piet.schmidt(at)ptb.de

Prof. Dr. Mathias Richter
(Head of Opens internal link in current windowDivision 7 | Temperature and Synchrotron Radiation)
Phone: +49 30 3481-7312
E-mail: mathias.richter(at)ptb.de

Dr. Jörn Beyer
(Head of Opens internal link in current windowDepartment 7.6 | Cryosensors)
Phone: +49 30 3481-7379
E-mail: joern.beyer(at)ptb.de

Prof. Dr. Tobias Schäffter
(Head of Opens internal link in current windowDivision 8 | Medical Physics and Metrological Information Technology)
Phone: +49 30 3481-7343
E-mail: tobias.schaeffter(at)ptb.de