EIC Pathfinder Grant to build prototypical quantum computer

Paving the way for novel quantum technologies

The European Innovation Council (EIC) has awarded a Pathfinder Grant of about 3 million euros to the European consortium Quondensate. The consortium’s research aims to result in a prototypical quantum computer which will overcome the conventional boundaries of standard information and computation technologies. The project is coordinated by Politecnico di Milano and partners include six prestigious universities and a world-leading company in the field of quantum technologies. Zeila Zanolli, associate professor at Utrecht University, is one of the principal investigators.

Today’s computation, based on parallel processing of information, is reaching its physical limitations. Novel solutions are needed to overcome the main hurdles. Quondensate will take on this challenge by presenting a proof-of-concept of a new idea: Quantum Reservoir Computing (QRC), implemented using a network of defects in two-dimensional quantum materials. Reservoir computing (RC) refers to a specific type of machine learning, and QRC refers to the implementation of RC using systems which exploit quantum properties like superposition and entanglement. If successful, the results will ultimately enable the fabrication of a prototypical quantum computer.

Capitalising upon the very different expertises comprised within the consortium makes the project feasible, yet groundbreaking

Tuning the properties of quantum materials

The project aims to achieve the proof-of-concept of QRC using defects in quantum materials. Professor Zanolli and her group Quantum Materials by Design will design quantum neural networks from point defects in 2D materials to be used in QRC. Indeed, by creating defects in its structure, such as a missing atom, the properties of quantum materials can be tuned. The group will compute which defects need to be created so that the material exhibits properties that would be optimal for its application in computing devices. They will work with a special class of ultrathin layered 2D materials: transition metal dichalcogenides (TDMs) semiconductors. 

Zanolli is specifically interested in how properties of the material change due to the interaction between defects in TMDs and, more specifically, the spectroscopic signatures of excitons bound to single defects, and networks of defects. Excitons are the combination of an electron (negatively charged particle) and the positive charge it leaves behind when it gets excited by light. The two particles are attracted two each other by electrostatic interaction, so that excitons can be thought of as quasiparticles, described by the laws of quantum mechanics. Controlled generation of network of defects, and the associated excitons, makes the material suitable for application in computing devices.

Paving the way

This project brings together experts in both theory and experiments, which are both required to implement a proof-of-concept of QRC. “Capitalising upon the very different expertises comprised within the consortium makes the project feasible, yet groundbreaking,” Zanolli says. “As such, this project will result in unprecedented characteristics that extend the conventional boundaries of ICT electronic devices and systems and pave the way for the development of novel quantum technologies.”

Quondensate stands for QUantum reservoir cOmputing based on eNgineered DEfect NetworkS in trAnsition meTal dichalcogEnides.