People & Prizes
Partnerships to accelerate development
Quantum technologies are complex. So complex, that no single research group or organization can realize the promise of quantum computing alone. Collaboration is essential for innovation, and leaders from academia and industry are looking to work together to realize the promise of quantum computing. In 2019, QuTech worked hard on strengthening its community of collaborators.
Quantum with the king
Sophie Hermans is a PhD student in the Hanson Lab. In 2019, she was appointed one of the “Faces of Science” by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW).
“My most notable moment of 2019 was the ‘Avond van Wetenschap en Maatschappij’ (Night of Science and Society). Ronald Hanson was invited to lead a discussion on quantum technology, and I accompanied him to introduce our topic and explain the basics to the other guests at our table. These weren’t just any guests, however! Next to me and across the table were the Dutch Minister of Education, renowned physicist Robbert Dijkgraaf, Olympic swimmer Pieter van den Hoogenband, and the King of the Netherlands, to name just a few. When we heard who would be joining us, it made me a bit self-conscious: how do you behave in front of the King? Are my table manners satisfactory? In the end, we had a wonderful evening and an interesting discussion about the social implications of quantum technology.
2020 will be another exciting year for me, as we are working on creating the world’s first three-node quantum network and we expect to have this functional in the coming months.”
The rewards of working at QuTech
As group leader in the fault-tolerant quantum computing roadmap, Giordano Scappucci spans the traditional boundaries between materials, chemistry and physics to study innovative materials for applications in quantum technologies. In 2019, he was granted tenure at the TU Delft.
“As a physicist working on materials science, QuTech is a very interesting environment for me to work in. An institute that works on research and engineering at each layer of the stack for the development of a quantum computer together with industrial partners is unique in the world and that is really what attracted me. When I present a new idea, others instantly come back with their own ideas about applications or new directions for research. That interaction with the environment for me is really one of the most rewarding aspects of this work.
Equally rewarding to me is mentoring students. As a group leader, I supervise a number of Master students, PhDs and Postdocs. I love the journey that they take, first learning to take pride in their work, then the fulfilment of presenting their work to the outside world. And finally, even better, when they measure up to you, they become your equal and take off in another direction. Then you can learn from them and get something back. That intellectual satisfaction is what drives me and keeps me going.”
Everyone here is a QuTech'er
Nadia Haider is a lead engineer in the fault-tolerant quantum computing roadmap, where she works on multi-qubit chips. In 2019, within the DiCarlo group she was involved in the development of a superconducting
7-qubit chip that gave outstanding results.
“My highlight of 2019 was definitely our work on the 7-qubit working chip, which we designed within the Intel and IARPA project. Although all the deadlines put a lot of pressure on the group, we were very pleased with the end result: seven interacting qubits with state-of-the-art performance.
For 2020, our goal is to scale up and connect even more qubits with high qubit lifetimes on a single chip. We already finished the design of a 17-qubit chip this January, and while we’re waiting for it to be fabricated we are working on a 49-qubit chip. We use a modular design approach and aim to achieve quantum error correction in a scalable manner.
What really drives me is the energy of all the enthusiastic people here at QuTech, and of course the unique work environment. All the different disciplines complement each other: having an engineering background, I really feel that my input is appreciated by the physics community. Although QuTech is a collaboration between TU Delft and TNO, I see it as one organisation. Everyone here is a QuTech’er.”
Solving new pieces of the puzzle
Menno Veldhorst is group leader in the fault-tolerant quantum computing roadmap and roadmap leader of QuTech Academy. In 2019, he was granted tenure at the TU Delft. That same year he was awarded the Nicholas Kurti Science Prize and received an ERC Starting Grant to study quantum information transfer between spin and topological qubits.
“In my lab, we are currently betting on silicon and germanium as the quantum materials for the future quantum computer. In 2019, we showed for the first time that silicon qubits can be operated even at temperatures above one Kelvin. This opens perspectives for quantum integrated circuits that host both qubits and control circuitry. With germanium, we showed that we can execute full two-qubit logic. This was a fascinating result, even more so because we had only been working on it for about two years. What fascinates me most is that we have to be creative at all levels, from fabrication to design, from experiment to analysis. I simply love to solve these puzzles, in particular when other people say that they can’t be done. I’m not someone to take “no” for an answer.
At the same time, I think that being a parent has helped me to put things in perspective and become more flexible. When I come home after work, it is typically rush hour and I instantly have to switch to an entirely different mode. When my kids are in bed, I typically have fresh ideas and can continue to solve the puzzle.”
The benefits of taking a step back
As Quantum Device Engineer of TNO in the Vandersypen Lab, Delphine Brousse works on the fabrication process of spin qubit hardware.
“In 2019, my group really worked on collaboration. QuTech is a mission-driven institute, and the collaboration between the engineers of TNO and the scientists of TU Delft is a great opportunity. For example, this year we were unsatisfied with the reliability of our qubit production. Early this year we then took a step back to look at our fabrication as well as decision processes with a critical eye. That can be frustrating because you would rather move forward, but personally I really appreciate this attention to our way of working and the possibility to adjust and correct for it.
In 2020, we will be able to reap the benefits of these enhancements, and start producing spin-qubits with a much higher yield than we used to. So because our work process is better standardized and documented, the reliability of the production will also be much higher. And I think that is also the role of QuTech: to develop processes that don’t just work once or twice, but that bring us a very rigorous and strong base.”
Ready to launch!
Srijit Goswami is a tenure track team leader in the topological quantum computing roadmap. In 2019 he received an NWO KLEIN grant to study self-tuned topological states in semiconductor quantum wells.
“For me, 2019 was the year that many important developments finally came together. I started my tenure track at QuTech in late 2017. Then, of course, it first took some time to set up a new lab. Now I feel that we are at a nice ‘launching pad’ where the required infrastructure, measurement and fabrication techniques have matured to a stage where we can do some very interesting science in topological systems.
What really helped us to set this up quickly was the environment at QuTech. The excellent technical support makes research go much faster, and the open culture fosters collaborations between groups. For example, we’ve been working together with Giordano Scappucci, because we have a shared interest in two-dimensional systems. They have an efficient measurement system and protocol for studying semiconductor quantum wells and are helping us to characterize some novel platforms for topological superconductivity.
In 2019 our group produced two nice publications with proof-of-principle results on using the new materials for topological quantum computing. With these building blocks in place I feel that in 2020 we are in a position to execute new ideas and experiments to study topological phases in two-dimensional semiconductors.”
Prizes and honors
- Ronald Hanson was awarded the highest scientific award in The Netherlands, the Spinoza Prize, for his pioneering role in the area of entangled electrons and his global leadership in quantum networks based on entanglement. Hanson has also been appointed as new member of KNAW. Read more
- Master student Marta Pita-Vidal was awarded the Shell Graduation Prize 2019 for Physics for her MSc research on the development of nanowire-based fluxonium devices. Based on this work, she was also the Applied Sciences nominee for the TU Delft Best Graduate award 2019.
- Tenure-track team leaders Giordano Scappucci and Menno Veldhorst were offered a permanent faculty position – academic tenure – at TU Delft.
- Menno Veldhorst was awarded an ERC Starting Grant to implement a technique to coherently transfer quantum information between spin and Majorana qubits using strained germanium. Read more
- Srijit Goswami won an NWO KLEIN Grant for innovative, fundamental research of high quality and/or urgency. Using this grant, he will study self-tuned topological states in semiconductor quantum wells. Read more
- Tim Taminiau secured an ERC Starting Grant to support his work on quantum networks for distributed quantum computation. His works aims at protecting quantum states by distributing quantum error correction over quantum networks. Read more
- Menno Veldhorst was awarded the 2019 Nicholas Kurti Science Prize for his ground-breaking work on silicon and germanium-based electron spin quantum bits. Read more
- Sophie Hermans was appointed as one of the Faces of Science by KNAW. Read more (in Dutch)
- Stephanie Wehner was awarded the Ammodo Science Award by the Ammodo Foundation and KNAW. Read more
- Norbert Kalb won the Steven Hoogendijk Prize 2019 for his dissertation on quantum networks based on nitrogen-vacancy centers. The Steven Hoogendijk Prize is awarded every two years to the best TU Delft dissertation that appeared in that period. Read more
- Suzanne van Dam won the FYSICA 2019 Young Speakers Contest with her talk “Quantum contextuality tests using three-qubit parity measurements”.