Double success for KIT: In its 2021 awarding round, the European Research Council (ERC) has decided to award an Advanced Grant each to computer scientist Mehdi Tahoori and physicist Alexey Ustinov. For their research projects in the areas of technical informatics and quantum physics, the renowned scientists will receive funding in the amount of about 2.5 million and 2.7 million euros, respectively, over the next five years.
"Mehdi Tahoori and Alexey Ustinov break new ground with their interdisciplinary research projects that may lead to pioneer findings in science. I am very happy that the European Research Council will fund their excellent work with two of the highly renowned Advanced Grants," says Professor Oliver Kraft, KIT Vice-President for Research. "Their projects in the areas of informatics and physics are ambitious, forward-looking, and offer great potentials to advance fundamental research for the digital transformation of our society."
Smart Computing with Printed Electronics
With his project PRICOM (stands for: Printed Computing), Mehdi Tahoori , Professor for Dependable Nanocomputing at KIT, intends to enable dissemination of fast, inexpensive, and reliable (mini)computers on the consumer market and in personalized medicine. "In this way, we will not only generate economic profit, but also improve the quality of life," says the IT expert and electrical engineer. PRICOM focuses on the development of new computer architectures that are no longer based on conventional silicon chips, but on the principle of additive manufacture.
Sensors equipped with printed electronics will be implemented directly in the products to integrate more components and to better process and visualize information for users. Potential applications include short-lived consumer goods, such as food or customized medical products and medicine. "Pharmacy or supermarket: We all will profit from these smart products," Tahoori is convinced. With his interdisciplinary team, he will now develop transferable solutions.
Quantum Bits with High Frequency
Alexey Ustinov, Professor for Solid-state Physics at KIT's Physikalisches Institut, works on a new generation of superconducting quantum bits. "Qubits" are the basic computation units needed for the operation of a quantum computer. Within his project Milli-Q (stands for: Millimetre-Wave Superconducting Quantum Circuits), they will be further developed in terms of stability and energy efficiency. For quantum computing to reach a new level, operation frequency of qubits will be increased from today's average of 10 to 100 gigahertz.
"This is a big step that is expected to result in many technological advantages," Ustinov says. For more than two decades, he has been conducting research in the area of quantum circuits. Among others, the new quantum processors will work at far higher temperatures to reduce the high infrastructure and energy costs that have been spent for cooling so far.
The primary goal is to comprehensively understand physical properties of quantum circuits at temperatures around 1 Kelvin. "If our approach will be successful, we will reach another important milestone on the way towards a superconducting quantum computer for processing exponentially growing data volumes," Ustinov says.
ERC Advanced Grants 2021
The ERC Advanced Grants are designed to support established excellent scientists having a recognized track record of research achievements and wishing to open up new research areas. The funding decision is mainly based on the researcher's scientific work in the last ten years. In 2021, 1735 researchers submitted proposals.
The ERC awarded Advanced Grants in the total amount of more than EUR 624 million to 253 projects in 21 countries. 61 grants were awarded to German universities and research institutions. ERC's approval rate is 14.6 %.