29 October 2018

A billion euros for quantum research


Researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen are part of a high-profile European research collaboration where the EU will spend a billion euros to develop quantum technologies, which will provide us with 100 % secure communication, new supercomputers and more sensitive measuring equipment.

Devices for studying quantum technology
The 20 selected projects will receive almost a billion Danish kroner for the first phase of the Flagship.

The EU's largest research projects are the so-called Flagships and today, Monday, 29 October 2018, a new giant Flagship was launched in quantum technologies. The Flagship has just kicked off during a huge Quantum Flagship Kickoff in Vienna, where the first 20 projects will be revealed. Over the next 10 years, 1 billion euros will be spent on developing technologies that could fundamentally change the way we process information.

Researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute are right at the forefront and have received money in the first round. The quantum researchers at the institute on Blegdamsvej in Copenhagen have great expectations for the European collaboration with colleagues from Holland, Germany, Spain, France as well as other European countries.

"The EU Flagship provides a unique opportunity to engage in research alliances that link the strongest academic groups together in the effort to solve some of the major challenges facing society, such as security or supercomputing. The ultimate dream is to build is to build quantum computers that can solve problems that are impossible with existing computers – or a quantum internet, where unbreakable communication can take place risk free and security is guaranteed by the laws of quantum physics," explains Peter Lodahl, Professor at the Niels Bohr Institute.

The future internet is a quantum internet

A vital issue for our existing internet is security. It is essential to prevent financial transactions and confidential data from falling in the wrong hands. Quantum technology provides a solution to this problem in the form of quantum encryption, which is a 100 per cent unbreakable method of communication, as the method utilises the laws of quantum mechanics that originate from the research of Niels Bohr at the beginning of the last century.

It is about coding information in a single photon – the fundamental component of light. If you measure an individual photon, the measurement will inevitably disturb the photon and thus you will know if someone has tried to "eavesdrop". On the other hand, if no disturbance is detected then you can be sure that the communication is completely secure. The great challenge is to apply it over long distances, which is why a ‘quantum internet’ is high up on the list.