The world is on the brink of a quantum technological revolution with computers, sensors, networks, and more devices beginning to exploit the strange phenomena that underpin the subatomic world. This includes effects not seen on the macroscopic, everyday scale such as entanglement and superposition.
The race is on for nations to establish themselves at the forefront of this revolution, with academic, federal, and private investments of time, resources, and brainpower flooding into the field. One country that is well on the way to marking itself as a world leader in quantum technology is the Netherlands.
Academic Quantum Research in the Netherlands
The Netherlands' strength in the field of quantum technology is demonstrated by its dominance in the field of academic publishing. Though the small nation is populated by just 17 million people, it is third in the world for scientific citations in quantum research.
Geographically, quantum research in the Netherlands is concentrated in five major hubs based in Delft, Amsterdam, Leiden, Eindhoven, and Twente, all with their own affiliated universities and research centers.
Delft University of Technology
Founded in 2014 by Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) and TNO, QuTech is a research institute that aims to develop prototype quantum computers and a secure and safe quantum internet and to bring this technology to a wider general audience.
The main areas of research at QuTech are focused on the development of qubits, the fundamental informational units of quantum computers equivalent to bits in “traditional” computers. They are developing quantum internet technology using subatomic phenomena to ensure privacy through the realization of a quantum computer with different layers of both software and hardware to create a “quantum computing stack.”
These endeavors led to QuTech’s creation of Quantum Inspire, the first quantum computing platform in Europe that is available to the general public.
Eindhoven University of Technology
Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology (e/TU) are currently hard at work building the first hybrid quantum computer, a computing platform that mixes qubits with traditional computing elements.
The hybrid quantum computer is projected to be completed by 2024. Its developers hope that this mix of platforms will deliver the power of next-generation quantum computing while successfully integrating with existing classical computing technology.
Federal Investment in Quantum Tech Companies in the Netherlands
The Netherlands may be third in the world when it comes to the academic publishing of quantum technology research, but it leads the world in terms of the number of quantum-based startups per capita.
Though financially the Netherlands may not be investing as much in quantum tech as other countries like the US, an incredible ecosystem for this technology and major support from the Netherlands government’s National Growth Fund is helping to ensure this continues.
The aim of Quantum Delta NL is to create a national ecosystem for quantum innovation across the Netherlands. This involves forging bonds between the country’s five major quantum research hubs and industry.
Quantum Delta NL recently received €615 million from the Netherlands National Growth Fund which will support three main programs: quantum computation, quantum networks, and quantum sensing.
Through the investment, each of the five hubs will assist the set-up of new quantum start-ups and get them to market more rapidly by giving them faster access to facilities like clean rooms. It will also offer early investments for these start-ups and a tailored “acceleration program.”
PhotonDelta aims to create energy-efficient, faster, and more accurate microchips using the foundational units of light photons. The work conducted at the company could potentially position the Netherlands at the pinnacle of a field of study called “photonics.”
In April 2022, PhotonDelta received a €1.1 billion investment from the National Growth Fund and private investments. There is a major overlap between photonics and quantum technology so this investment could provide a major boost to the development of technology such as quantum photonic processors.
Quantum photonic processors are one of the primary concerns of the quantum startup QuiX Quantum based in Enschede, the Netherlands.
In 2022 the company unveiled the world’s largest photonics quantum processor, possessing 20 qumodes, the light-based equivalent of qubits, a record number for any system.
Image Credit: Bartlomiej K. Wroblewski/Shutterstock.com
Based in Delft, Netherlands, QuantWare is not only one of the world’s leading providers of supercomputing quantum processors, but in late 2022 the company announced the launch of its Foundry Services.
The aim of these services is to supply others with superconducting quantum chips, doing away with the need for in-house fabrication which can be extremely expensive and require specialized facilities and trained engineers.
Making this technology widely available could help other companies and research institutes overcome hurdles in accessing quantum technology research and innovation.
Quantum Technology Beyond the Netherlands’ Boarders
The Netherlands' impact on quantum technology extends well beyond its borders. While the Netherlands was the head of the European Union (EU) in 2018, the EU launched the €1 billion Quantum Technologies Flagship initiative which aimed to support the work of 100s of quantum researchers over ten years.
The Quantum Technologies Flagship focused on a total of 24 projects based on the core application areas of quantum computing, quantum simulation, quantum communication, quantum sensors, and meteorology. The aim of the initiative was to put Europe at the forefront of the quantum tech revolution.
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Quantumware Launches Foundry Services for Superconducting Quantum Chips, Quantware, [Accessed 01/18/23], [https://www.quantware.eu/press/quantware-launches-foundry-services-for-superconducting-quantum-chips]
Quix Quantum Launches Record Breaking 20-Qumode Quantum Photonic Processor, PhotonDelta, [Accessed 01/18/23], [https://www.photondelta.com/news/new-quantum-photonic-processor-record-number-qumodes-world-quix-quantum/]