Quantum technology: unique research field full of potential
Ultra-fast and microscopically small quantum systems, such as computers and sensors – these are what we’re focusing on in the relatively new research area of quantum technology. Our aim is to use the unique properties of quantum mechanics for practical applications. That’s why we’re supporting this emerging industry with the design, development and manufacture of quantum sensors, quantum devices and complete systems.
What is quantum technology?
Today’s computers and sensors are not only much faster than ever before, but also much smaller. Despite this continuous development, the principle has always remained the same: a bit has a value of 0 or 1. Quantum technology works differently. Because the laws of nature at the microscopic level are different to those at the macroscopic level, an electric current, for instance, can move both clockwise and anticlockwise. As a result, the quantum bit or qubit does not have the value 0 or 1, but rather 0 and 1.
The advantages of quantum technology
Processing a qubit with a simultaneous value of 0 and 1 results in the processing of both the 0 and the 1. While this is already a modest advantage, the advantage increases exponentially when applied to multiple qubits. A quantum computer uses this principle. It performs the same calculations on a very large amount of data in one go. This makes a quantum computer many times faster than a conventional computer.
A properly functioning quantum computer will be a significant addition to scientific research, enabling us to analyse gigantic amounts of data and discover patterns and connections there. Furthermore, we can run highly detailed simulations to test and refine theories. The potential benefits of this may extend to the rest of society, such as the entertainment industry.
Help in developing quantum devices
The manufacture of quantum devices must be almost perfect for us to actually be able to use quantum physical properties for practical applications. We can help with the development of workflows for prototypes of ‘perfect’ quantum devices. Additionally, we develop new equipment or adapt existing nanofabrication equipment to make quantum devices.
Within our services, we use various nanofabrication instruments. We have extensive experience with these to manufacture nanodevices and quantum devices for industrial applications. Through QuTech (a collaboration between TU Delft and TNO), we also work closely with companies involved in quantum computing and communication. In addition, we’re working on the further development of specific quantum devices for the semiconductor industry.
Quantum system design
Even if a quantum device is perfectly made, measurements and control systems remain crucial. Only in this way you can use quantum physical properties without error. This requires real-time measurement of variables, which initialise and stabilise the quantum devices, and optimise their functionality. We provide this by:
- developing and improving new quantum system architectures.
- developing operating systems (hardware and software) for quantum technology.
- developing data analyses and control algorithms.
We are unique in this area because we combine various important fields of expertise at a high technological level, such as RF technology, big data analysis, and optics. We currently offer this expertise to facilitate the development of computer and communication systems for the information and telecommunications, semiconductor, and aerospace and defence sectors.
Within the QuTech partnership we focus on new possibilities together with TU Delft and industrial partners, such as quantum computing and quantum internet. To support the first steps and explore the opportunities, we developed the computer platform Quantum Inspire.
TNO Starts 7-year Quantum Testing and Experimentation Program
TNO is coordinating Qu-Test, a network of RTOs and NMIs funded by Quantum Flagship, to accelerate European competitiveness in quantum technology.