Prof. Wolfgang Marquardt, CEO Forschungszentrum Jülich; Dr. Hartmut Neven, Technical Director, Google & Leader Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab; Dr. Markus Hoffmann, Leader „Quantum Partnerships”, Google; Prof. David DiVincenzo, Director Peter Grünberg Institut (PGI-2/IAS-3/PGI-11), Forschungszentrum Jülich; Prof. Kristel Michielsen, JSC, Forschungszentrum Jülich; Prof. Sebastian M. Schmidt, Member of the Board Forschungszentrum Jülich; Prof. Thomas Lippert, Director JSC, Forschungszentrum Jülich (f.l.t.r) ©Forschungszentrum Jülich/Kurt Steinhausen
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Today Forschungszentrum Jülich as well as Google announced that they will cooperate on research into quantum computers. Furthermore, in addition to joint research activities, the two new research partners plan to advance the training of experts in quantum technologies and quantum algorithms. Another goal of this German-American collaboration is the mutual exchange of hardware.

During his visit to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister of Economics and Energy, welcomed the cooperation with these words:

Quantum computers have the potential to solve certain types of calculations much more efficiently than today’s technologies can. Quantum computers and quantum algorithms are therefore very important technologies which will shape the future and are being followed closely around the world. At present, quantum computers are still very much at in their infancy, and it is difficult to predict what will become possible – and what perhaps will not. Researchers still have a lot of basic research to do in this area. It was the same situation when we were developing today’s computers. I am therefore delighted that Google and Forschungszentrum Jülich have decided to cooperate in the important forward-looking field of quantum computers”

EU flagship quantum program

Google and Forschungszentrum Jülich have been working independently on the development of quantum processors and quantum algorithms for years. The research center plans to operate a European quantum computer equipped with 50 to 100 superconductive qubits, including quantum bits. In quantum informatics, they are regarded as the counterpart to the standard bit. The quantum computer is to be developed as part of the EU’s Quantum Flagship program  and will be accessible to research and industry at Forschungszentrum Jülich. This EU-wide research initiative aims to accelerate the development of quantum technologies in Europe. It has a funding budget of 1 billion euros for a period of about ten years.

Quantum computers offer options to solve certain algorithmic problems in seconds which would take years with established supercomputers. Google, a company that sets new standards in this field, is an important partner for us to join forces in research to advance this revolutionary technology.”

Explains Prof. Wolfgang Marquardt, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Forschungszentrum Jülich.

Dr. Hartmut Neven, Technical Director at Google and Head of the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab explains further:

“Quantum processors may support the development of new environmentally friendly technologies and revolutionize artificial intelligence technologies. We are excited to see the European developments and, as part of the cooperation with the Forschungszentrum Jülich, we look forward to contributing to the success of European quantum technologies.“

On-the-job training for young scientists

Forschungszentrum Jülich and the American group will support each other in the future, particularly in training junior scientists and experts. Because, according to Dr. Markus Hoffmann, head of “Quantum Partnerships” at Google:

“A shortage of specialists, like in the field of artificial intelligence, is also foreseeable in the field of quantum computing. For this reason, we invest in training and promoting top academic talent.”

The partnership is primarily about regular scientific exchange as well. Prof. Kristel Michielsen, head of the Quantum Information Processing workgroup at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC), already has very concrete plans in this respect::

“Hands-on workshop and spring schools will be organised at Forschungszentrum Jülich. The Jülich UNified Infrastructure for Quantum computing (JUNIQ), a European quantum computer user facility planned for the Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC), will be available for training industry professionals, and will be accessible in the cloud to European users,”

Long-standing collaboration

Additionally, Google and Forschungszentrum Jülich will carry out joint research in the field of quantum hardware and quantum algorithms. This gives scientists from both parties the opportunity to conduct simulations on the supercomputers at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre (JSC) and to experiment with Google’s quantum processors. Forschungszentrum Jülich and Google are already working together on several research projects. In the meantime, some of them have been awarded the Google Faculty Research Award. For example, Prof. Kristel Michielsen and Prof. Tommaso Calarco from Forschungszentrum Jülich were awarded the 2018 Research Prize. Another award went to Prof. Frank Wilhelm-Mauch from the University of Saarland in 2015. Forschungszentrum Jülich has been involved with this project in the OpenSuperQ sub-project of the European Quantum Flagship program.