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Finland: Computer Technology Aalto University Receives One Million Euro to Build Quantum Computer

Editor: MA Alexander Stark

The working group headed by Aalto University Docent Mikko Möttönen received a total of EUR 950,000 in funding from the Technology Industries of Finland Centennial Foundation and Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation. The working group applied for funding through Future Makers, a joint funding programme administered by the two foundations to find bold, new research ideas.

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Photo of the centimeter-sized silicon chip which has three separate superconducting quantum bits.
Photo of the centimeter-sized silicon chip which has three separate superconducting quantum bits.
(Source: Jan Goetz/Aalto-yliopisto)

Aalto/Finland — Möttönen's group will begin development of a scalable quantum computer in Finland. The objective is to first build a quantum processor, which can be scaled (i.e. made into a larger processor) in the future. As no one has yet been able to build a quantum computer, which is capable of solving practical problems extremely quickly, getting started on this endeavour is of the utmost importance.

"Although there are different kinds of quantum computer prototypes out there, this technology is still in its infancy. A large-scale quantum computer will make the impossible possible. It will be able to quickly solve extraordinarily difficult problems, which would take conventional computers over a billion years to solve," explains Möttönen.

A quantum computer can come up with answers to a wide range of questions in everything from medicine to climate change by using quantum mechanics in computation. It can be used to model, among other things, chemical compounds and reactions (e.g. pharmaceuticals and fertilisers) in an entirely new way.

"If we could precisely simulate chemical reactions using a computer, we wouldn't need to go over every single alternative in the lab," explains Möttönen.

The work being done by Möttönen's group is supported by the development of superconducting circuits done over the last decade. Superconductivity is a phenomenon, in which electrical resistance disappears below a certain temperature. Superconducting circuits facilitate the mass generation of quantum bits, or qubits. They can be used to make a scalable architecture for a quantum computer.

"Even here in Finland, superconducting quantum bits have been generated for years. Although there's a great deal of expertise available, no one has set out to build a quantum computer because there weren't enough resources for such an undertaking. With this funding, we can now begin the systematic construction of a quantum computer," says Möttönen.