The Ministry for Education, Culture and Science has awarded a Gravitation grant for large-scale research on quantum software. This grant of 18.8 million euro unites researchers from QuSoft, CWI, Leiden University, QuTech, TU Delft, UvA and the VU in pursuing state of the art research programmes in this new field. The NWO Gravitation grants sum up to a total amount of 112.8 million euro, awarded by minister Jet Bussemaker to give Dutch world-class scientists the opportunity to carry out research that can bring about revolutionary breakthroughs.
Coordinating researcher professor Harry Buhrman (director of QuSoft, group leader at CWI, and professor at UvA) is very pleased: “We expect that small-scale quantum platforms and networks will soon become available. Such systems allow for calculations that extend far beyond those dreamed for conventional computers. The potential of these future quantum technologies is huge, but we will face great challenges in learning what to compute and how to perform such calculations. With this grant, we can develop the required quantum software. It’s a huge scientific challenge that we can now address.”
Buhrman points out the importance of the current quantum revolution: “We have reached a special moment, similar to the sixties when conventional computers were developed. We look ahead at an incredible amount of fascinating possibilities, some of which are yet unimaginable.” Among other things, the consortium will explore possible applications in the development of new materials and the design of new medicine.
Quantum software, communication and cryptology
Quantum technology uses qubits, which in contrast to the conventional bits that are either 0 or 1, can simultaneously be 0 and 1. This fundamental difference opens the door to unprecedented calculations – but also requires a completely different strategy to build and program these machines.
“The Gravitation grant allows our consortium to pioneer quantum software for small quantum computers and a quantum internet. We will develop protocols for quantum communication, and for a new type of quantum-secure cryptography”, says Ronald Cramer (Leiden University, CWI). “These methods can be tested on quantum hardware that is developed in parallel in Delft and Leiden, and a quantum network between Amsterdam, Delft, Leiden and The Hague.”
Stephanie Wehner (QuTech, TU Delft) stresses the pioneering role of the consortium: “Quantum software is essential for quantum networks and computing. This grant allows us to take even bigger steps in the development and realisation of world-leading software applications for the future quantum internet in The Netherlands – possibly being the world’s first.”
The Quantum Software Consortium unites researchers from computer science, mathematics and physics. The grant was applied for by prof. dr. Harry Buhrman (CWI, Amsterdam University), prof. dr. Dirk Bouwmeester (Leiden University), prof. dr. Ronald Cramer (CWI, Leiden University), prof. dr. Ronald Hanson (QuTech, TU Delft), prof. dr. Stephanie Wehner (QuTech, TU Delft) and prof. dr. Ronald de Wolf (CWI, Amsterdam University).
The Gravitation programme is funded by the Ministry for Education, Culture and Science. This year, there were 37 applications for Gravitation funding. The Dutch Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) advises on the selection of teams. For the assessment of proposals, NWO appoints an international committee of independent top researchers with a broad knowledge of scientific developments and experience with larger scientific consortia.
With Gravitation, the Ministry for Education, Culture and Science and NWO give impetus to cooperation at the highest scientific level. Within the selected consortia, scientists from different knowledge institutions will work together to create excellent, long-term and large-scale scientific research programmes.
For more information about the Gravitation programme, see the NWO press release.