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FET-OPEN grant for topological states in germanium nanowires

FET-OPEN grant for topological states in germanium nanowires

Limited scalability and the high sensitivity of qubits as building blocks for the quantum computer are still in the way of the ‘super computer’s’ big breakthrough. Researchers of the University of Twente, together with colleagues from Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands may have found a promising solution to address these challenges. They have been awarded a 3.1 million euro financial contribution from the EU’s Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme.

Fundamental challenges

With qubits as basic units for quantum information, the computer calculates fundamentally different compared to existing systems. But the qubits will pose new fundamental challenges: the fragility and limited scalability of quantum states. These challenges are the major obstacles in realizing the new quantum computer. Once a full-working system is realized, the computing potential may prove to be helpful in complex and extensive calculations in a range of applications, including the development of novel personalized medicines.

With the choice for germanium as a material, the researchers aim to reduce the fragility and increase the scalability of qubits. This may allow for scaling up from individual qubits to 100,000s. The fabrication technology in the project makes use of silicon wafers, as used in current CMOS technology for electronics. This approach can benefit from the scalability of CMOS.

The researchers will synthesize the germanium wires on silicon wafers. The nanowires will be positioned with high precision according to a pre-defined pattern. A smart structure and extreme precision will pave the way for parallel production of thousands of such structures. The material system of the researchers has never been used before to achieve topological properties. Ensuring the required topological states is important in overcoming the challenge of making qubits insensitive to local disorder: at the ends of the wires the researchers hope to observe Majorana fermions, topological states which can serve as robust building blocks of a quantum computer.  


Within the TOPSQUAD (Topologically Protected and Scalable Quantum Bits) project, leading scientists from the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria team up in the attempt to realize the major breakthrough in quantum computing. Altogether, researchers in the project have been awarded an impressive seven individual ERC grants. Floris Zwanenburg, who is an associate professor in the NanoElectronics group and Alexander Brinkman, full professor in Quantum Transport in Matter, will lead the project. The other partners in the project are Universität Basel, Institute of Science and Technology Austria, TU/e, Basel Precision Instruments and Eindhoven-based nanoPHAB.

Future and Emerging Technologies (FET)

The Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme of the European Union has been initiated to support promising novel technologies in an earlier stage. The EU aims at contributing to strengthening Europe’s competitiveness. Projects which are supported include the exploration of new opportunities of key enabling technologies and establishing new and unexpected (multidisciplinary) collaborations.