Logo der PTB - Messen, Forschen, Wissen

Quantum Technology Competence Center (QTZ)

The recently established quantum technology competence center (QTZ) at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt will provide an important basis for the industrial development of quantum technology. PTB combines internationally recognized, professional Opens external link in new windowcompetence in the field of quantum metrology and sensor technology with the mission to support industry in metrology as a governmental body. It has the prerequisites to operate and build important infrastructures as required and to offer the necessary services. The central goal of QTZ is to support business - with a special focus on start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises - in the transfer of quantum technology from basic research into application. The QTZ complements the existing research and development skills and services with a focus on the evolving needs of the economy and active technology transfer. 

Robust Components and Technologies

For QT applications to be successful in the market, robust and user-friendly QT components are required that can also be used by non-experts in the challenging environment of an industrial plant. PTB allows QT components that have already established themselves at PTB (or in other research institutes) to be enhanced for this type of practical utilization.

Calibrations and Other Services

For QT components to be used commercially, it is essential for them to be reliable and comparable. Furthermore, their compliance with quality-relevant specifications must be ensured and certified by means of calibration and characterization. For this purpose, the QTZ continues to support the development of norms and standards in the field of QT. With these services, which belong to the fundamental tasks of PTB, as an independent national metrology institute, PTB is making an important and robust contribution to paving the way into the QT market.

Hands-on Training, Quantum Education, and Support
for Start-ups

To implement QT in the market, well-qualified staff are needed. Currently, however, there are not enough possibilities to train such staff. The connections PTB has with important stakeholders from industry will be an excellent starting point to train such a “quantum workforce” in the near future and to cover current needs. Suitable user platforms will be used for this purpose. Another possibility when it comes to transferring knowledge is to encourage and promote business start-ups.

 

 

User platforms at the QTZ

These user platforms offer measuring facilities that are robust and designed to be user-friendly in essential areas of QT. With the support of PTB’s staff and infrastructure, it is planned to make them accessible to external partners. The objective here is to allow these partners to gain their own experiences with QT without having to set up the necessary infrastructure themselves as this typically requires considerable investment and long preparatory phases. Another challenge for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is the lack of familiarization and experience with the technologies applied in this field. Having to spend a long time setting them up is yet another challenge. In such a potentially very dynamic and disruptive field as QT, this may represent a considerable competitive disadvantage that can be difficult to make up for. The QTZ has been designed to try and overcome this difficulty.

These user platforms are a central element to pursuing all of the QTZ’s objectives. They represent essential core capabilities of PTB in the field of QT and provide the appurtenant equipment, measuring facilities and demonstrators. In accordance with PTB’s core areas, these platforms focus on quantum metrology and quantum sensors. As regards the setting up of these measuring facilities, the aspects of robustness and user-friendliness are the center of attention. This differentiates them from set-ups for fundamental research at the limit of what is technically feasible. The aim is to allow even non-experts to operate these facilities. These measuring facilities, which are designed to be used relatively easily, are to be made available for use by external partners with the support of PTB’s staff and infrastructure.

Electrical Quantum Metrology

PTB has been conducting research and development activities at the highest level in the field of electrical quantum standards for many years to serve as a basis for the realization of the electrical units of the International System of Units (SI). However, industry will only benefit from the intrinsic advantages of quantum-based electrical measuring techniques (high-precision measurements around the clock without wasting time for recalibration) in the medium term if the operating conditions are simplified and if the operability is enhanced by automation. The QTZ provides the possibility to systematically investigate and develop the use of new materials to simplify the operating conditions of electrical quantum standards and to improve the automation of quantum-based electrical measuring techniques with a view to their subsequent use at an industrial scale (“electrical quantum metrology on the workshop floor”).

Ion Traps

Ion traps are a key technology for QT. Some promising approaches are based on ion traps for quantum computers and quantum simulation which exploit the extremely high degree of isolation and control over the ions in the form of qubits. The ion trap technology developed at PTB, for instance, is being used at the QVLS consortium (Opens external link in new windowwww.qvls.de/en/) to develop a quantum computer based on ion traps. Moreover, ion traps are excellently suited for frequency metrology. For one thing, frequency standards of the highest accuracy and new developments such as multiple-ion clocks are possible. For another, this technology has been enhanced for the first time at PTB within the scope of a project entitled “opticlock” (www.opticlock.de). A consortium of industrial partners and partners from the research community has come together to make it a user-friendly and robust optical atomic clock with a considerable potential for industrial applications.

Opens external link in new windowScalable Chip Ion Traps

Opens external link in new windowMultilayer Ion Traps

Quantum Metrology for Time & Frequency and for Ultrastable Lasers

PTB has been in the lead worldwide in developing optical atomic clocks and the appurtenant components such as microstructured atomic traps, ultrastable lasers, and glass fiber links for frequency transmission and transportable optical clocks. Based on this experience, individual components as well as entire transportable clock systems have been developed together with German SMEs within the scope of transfer projects and of the opticlock quantum technology pilot project of the BMBF.

Quantum Communications, Quantum Cryptography, and Quantum Radiometry

PTB calibrates single-photon detectors such as silicon and InGaAs single-photon avalanche diodes as well as superconducting nanowire detectors with the lowest measurement uncertainty in the world. Moreover, PTB has been developing absolutely characterized single-photon sources as new standard radiation sources for radiometry and quantum communications. In order to implement quantum communications and quantum cryptography on a large scale, it is necessary to accurately characterize the sources, detectors and data transmission channels used.

Quantum Magnetic-Field Sensors

Two quantum technologies, which are already in use, are superconducting quantum interferometers (SQUIDs – superconducting quantum interference devices) and optically pumped magnetometers (OPMs) for ultrasensitive measurement of magnetic fields and the sensitive measurement of physical quantities that can be converted into magnetic flux, such as electric current. For example, SQUID magnetometers have been successfully used for several years to measure the tiny magnetic fields generated by the neural activity of the human brain in magnetoencephalography (MEG). Further new biomedical analytical and diagnostic methods are being advanced with the aid of these quantum sensors at PTB among other research institutes.

Opens internal link in current windowSuperconducting Quantum Interferometers (SQUIDs)

Opens internal link in current windowUltrasensitive SQUID Systems for Biomagnetic Measurements

Opens internal link in current windowOptically Pumped Magnetometers for the Measurement of Ultra-low Magnetic Fields

Opens internal link in current windowCore Facility Metrology for Ultra-low Magnetic Fields

NEW BUILDINGS AND FACILITIES FOR THE QTZ

The Lummer Pringsheim Building in Braunschweig (completion planned for 2023)
The Walther Meissner Building in Berlin (completion planned for 2021)

Designed as the central contact point for QT and as a QT cluster within PTB, the QTZ will be accommodated in new buildings at both the Braunschweig and the Berlin sites of PTB. These new facilities will allow the QTZ to effectively pursue the above-described objectives and to make PTB’s QT expertise more visible and utilizable for industry. In particular the concept of user platforms for external users in this form represents a new approach for PTB. This new approach is reflected in the design of the new building. This concept already provides office space for external partners for the expanded use of the QT infrastructure as well as a venue for training and seminars. Today, the lack of infrastructure in the area of measurement techniques and metrology is often a limiting factor when it comes to successfully transferring scientific developments to industry. These buildings will therefore represent a solid foundation guaranteeing the success of quantum technologies in Germany. In Braunschweig, the new Lummer Pringsheim Building will accommodate the largest number of measuring facilities of the user platforms, whereas in Berlin, such facilities will be used in the Walther Meissner Building.