Quantum technology capital: QUES2T (Quantum Engineering of Solid-state Technologies)

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: London Centre for Nanotechnology


Solid state electronic devices have transformed our lives over the past fifty years: the development of devices like the transistor, integrated circuits and magnetic hard disks have given us a revolution in computing power, portable electronics and the ability to store and handle vast amounts of data. Quantum technologies aim to harness the power of quantum physics to deliver a further revolution in areas such as computing, sensing and communication. The UK is currently making a major investment in the exploitation of quantum science research to deliver a range of quantum technologies - so far this investment has focused on platforms of photonics, cold atoms and trapped ions. The aim of our proposal, Quantum Engineering of Solid-State Technologies, or QUES2T, is to address the capability gap in in quantum solid-state technologies and ensure the UK is in a strong competitive position in some of the most high-impact and scalable quantum technologies.

In QUES2T we focus on three solid-state platforms which are well-poised to make significant commercial impact: i) silicon nano-devices, ii) superconducting circuits and iii) diamond-based devices. Each of these materials have demonstrated outstanding properties: silicon can store quantum information for a record-breaking 3 hours, superconducting circuits have been used to make the most complex quantum devices to date, while diamond based magnetometer have a sensitivity to image individual proton spins in a second. We will exploit these properties to develop practical quantum technologies. Importantly, we do not consider these platforms in isolation. A key strength and unique feature of QUES2T is that it not only provides essential infrastructure in each of these three areas but that it brings together a team of people with expertise across these different platforms. This will allow exchange of cross-fertilisation of different disciplines through transfer of expertise and the accelerated development of hybrid technologies that combine the best properties of different materials, to make new detectors, memories, and processors.

QUES2T will allow UK researchers and their collaborators to exploit the advantages of developing new quantum devices based on solid state technologies, including easier integration with existing conventional technologies (such as CMOS processors) and reduced timescales to market and manufacturing. The capital infrastructure of QUES2T will establish world-class fabrication capabilities to manufacture high-quality quantum device prototypes out of a range of materials. It will also enable the creation of low-temperature technology test-beds to test the prototypes and develop technology demonstrators. These test-beds will combine a number of essential features, enabling devices to be addressed optically using lasers, with microwave pulses, under low-noise electrical measurements, and all at a hundredth of a degree kelvin. Such systems will be unique UK.

To deliver our vision, we have established strong links with academic and industrial partners to exchange the latest technology, expertise and materials. Examples are ultra low-phase noise signal generators with applications in fast high-fidelity qubit control or isotopically pure materials for quantum prototypes in Si and diamond. Industry users working on quantum technologies will be actively encouraged to access the QUES2T infrastructure, such as a state-of-the-art 100 keV electron beam writer to make devices with 10nm features. Many industry partners will also be end users of the technologies that will be developed through QUES2T. Early technologies include scanning probe devices enabling magnetic resonance imaging at the single molecule level and quantum current standards counting electrons one-by-one. On a longer timescale, a fault-tolerant and scalable Si or superconducting based quantum processor, would be form the basis of a new and disruptive industry in computing.

Planned Impact

QUES2T will establish the capabilities to harness quantum physics to transform functionality and performance of solid-state devices. We will focus on material platforms like silicon, superconducting cicuits, and diamond, capable of delivering projects reaching TRL4 to TRL6 within 2-5 years and underpinning research activities to feed into the innovation pipeline.

The focus of QUES2T on a versatile solid-state technology platform ensures that the medium/long term impact of the research it enables is supported by shorter-term gains in technology transfer and device development.
- Our capabilities will allow proof-of-concept and proof-of-market work to deliver devices and technologies in collaboration with industrial partners and users. The outcomes will be visible already from Y2-3, and will result in development of SPIN-OUT COMPANIES AND NEW PRODUCTS, benefiting the UK economy. We will develop world-leading capability in the calibration of current standards, with economic impact through NPL
- Solid-state technologies are widely believed by industry to deliver the first scalable, fault-tolerant quantum processor. This device will be able to solve currently 'uncrackable' problems, delivering a competitive advantage to our partners in the provision of products and services resulting in INWARD INVESTMENT and WEALTH CREATION. In understanding how to construct a quantum computer in the solid state, we will build a KNOWLEDGE BASE and IP PORTFOLIO in solid state quantum technologies with value in the wider quantum technology industry.
- The solid-state electronics platform has already proved itself extremely powerful and underpins much of the ICT manufacturing industry. By building on this, we will be able to support the DEVELOPMENT OF A "QUANTUM ELECTRONIC MANUFACTURING" SECTOR in the UK, with impact on both the economy and society through its products and by creation of new jobs and markets.

Solid-state quantum procssors have the potential to revolutionise the way data is collected, analysed, transferred and stored, with a massive impact on society, ranging from security and privacy to health and wellbeing.
GENERAL PUBLIC: We will continue to work with UCL activities in "Responsible Quantum Technologies" with regular dialogue with the general public, ensuring that the public will be aware (and able to take advantage) of the advances in solid-state QT, and remain aware of any views and concerns of society into our R&D plans.
POLICY: Throughout this programme we will maintain close relations with policymakers from the UK and beyond to ensure there is full awareness of the potential effects of the discoveries taking place in the QUES2T facilities and that appropriate regulatory measures are in place whenever the products have a broader societal impact.
HEALTH AND WELLBEING: The research fostered by QUES2T has the potential to impact areas such as health (eg. novel imaging devices in biomedical research), energy (eg. performance enhancement in solar cells) and security (eg. uncloneable tokens). We will work with our industrial and user partners to ensure that they take place for the benefit of all.

QUES2T brings together diverse team of leading groups from 4 UK universities, engaged in collaborations with over 100 industrial and academic institutions across the world. This unique combination of knowledge and skills will deliver research and innovation that leads to SCIENTIFIC ADVANCES to strengthen the UK's position as a world-leader in the field and SCIENTIFIC TOOLS such as quantum simulators and scanning probe imagers to give a unique edge to our quantum chemists and structural biologists.
QUES2T will have a broader impact on the UK ACADEMIC OPPORTUNITY, training and developing the staff, researchers and students involved with the creation and exploitation of QUES2T facilities (eg. the alignment with EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training will enhance impact on the PEOPLE PIPELINE)


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Bienfait A (2017) Magnetic Resonance with Squeezed Microwaves in Physical Review X

Description IMEC 
Organisation Interuniversity Micro-Electronics Centre
Country Belgium, Kingdom of 
Sector Multiple 
PI Contribution We have brought our expertise in the design and measurement of silicon quantum devices
Collaborator Contribution IMEC are providing cutting-edge CMOS devices with high-yield, high-purity and small feature sizes. The aim is to jointly develop CMOS-based quantum devices for implementing spin qubits in silicon.
Impact N/A
Start Year 2016
Description NPL 
Organisation National Physical Laboratory
Department Time, Quantum and Electromagnetics Division
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have brought our expertise in highly coherent spins in silicon and rare-earth spins in YSO, including spin coherence times and decoherence mechanisms, as well as expertise in NbN resonator fabrication.
Collaborator Contribution The NPL team have cutting-edge facilities for the measurement of superconducting resonators at mK temperatures, as well as expertise in the design of such structures and coupling them to implanted spins. They are co-funding a PhD student in my group and providing access to specialised measurement infrastructure.
Impact N/A
Start Year 2016
Description Inv Talk - 2016 - CWTEC 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Invited presentation entitled "What is a universal quantum computer and how do I build one" delivered at the CW-TEC (Cambridge Wireless Technology) 2016 event. This event is addressed primarily at industry and academia in the sectors of wireless communication, and led to discussions on the likely timescales of commercial quantum computers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
Description Physics Teacher Training 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 15 teachers of Physics at A/AS-level attended a talk I had prepared on how to present some of the latest developments in measurements of quantum dots and development of a new current standard in terms of A-level physics, providing ideas for how they can cover this recent work in their classrooms.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
Description Quantum Teleportation - UCL Science Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Public talk on "Quantum Teleportation" aimed at school children and members of the general public, with over 400 attendees from across London. Very lively discussion followed on the impacts of quantum teleportation and quantum technologies in general.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016