ESCHER - Establishing Supply Chains for Emergent Quantum Computers

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC)

Abstract

A key pillar of the UK National Quantum Technology Programme is the drive towards practical quantum computing devices. This grand challenge, being pursued by commercial and academic institutions globally, has potentially far reaching economic and social implications. The NQIT hub aims to develop networks of trapped ion microprocessors with optical interconnects as a route to fault tolerant quantum computing. The scale of the task for researchers and companies in the field is formidable yet a clear pathway exists for the necessary incremental engineering steps towards this goal. Demonstrations to date have validated the underlying concepts, yet the level of scalability required to deliver, for instance, a universal quantum computer will require groundbreaking developments in quantum hardware engineering. This will inevitably require supply chains to emerge and mature along with the leading developers and researchers in the field.
Currently, the groups pushing the limits of a variety of quantum computing and networking disciplines are reliant on bespoke hardware, not widely available and with a high manufacturing overhead. The market opportunity that the partners seek to address, is to position themselves at the core of the emerging supply chain network for a variety of quantumcomputing and quantum information processing devices. For M Squared Lasers Limited, this market opportunity will begin with key subsystem supply to their existing worldwide customer base, with whom they are already working closely. The long-term opportunity comes from moving towards vertical integration building upon a wide collaborative network and system integration capabilities. Similarly, Covesion Ltd will play a key role in the supply of critical optical components, starting here with nonlinear frequency conversion crystals and waveguide devices for the proposed single photon sources and quantum frequency converters. NQIT is the main research and development effort in the UK pushing quantum computing technologies from the lab to the marketplace. NQIT is therefore ideally placed to work with M Squared Lasers and Covesion on developing a supply chain for quantum computing which meets the advanced engineering demands of this emerging sector.
The current state-of-the-art for the targeted technologies are complex lab-built devices created ad hoc for specific experiments. The partners have relevant experience in the targeted areas and through the proposed formal collaboration can create two new product lines that will find applicability in a variety of quantum computing applications.
This development builds on: existing product lines at M Squared Lasers, namely the Sprite XT ultrafast laser and Ice Bloc modular electronics platform; the PPLN product line at Covesion; existing experience and demonstrations of single photon and quantum frequency converters in the quantum information group at the University of Oxford; lithium niobate waveguide design knowhow from our own group at the University of Southampton, and extensive experience and knowhow relating to stable, low-noise DC drive electronics for addressing scalable ion trap arrays at the Ion QT group at the University of Sussex.

Planned Impact

The impacts of the project will be wide reaching from the outset and will support the establishment of an entirely new industry over the next decade with major economic benefits both up- and downstream. The importance of the establishing supply chains within the UK economy at an early stage in the sector's life cycle is anticipated to be of critical importance to the nation's economic competitiveness in the coming decades. The planned work will help accelerate investment and foster an ecosystem that will be a major contributor to the overall competitiveness of, not only the native quantum computing field, but also the myriad of industries that are well positioned to benefit from future developments. With >30% CAGR the scale of investment and opportunity is extensive. Currently the North American share of this market and the associated supply chains is 49%, whilst the Asia-Pacific region is projected to grow rapidly as the technology and markets mature. The risk for the UK sector is to be left behind or become reliant on imports of critical components and subsystems. This would hinder the development and adoption of UK-built quantum computing technologies. Reinforcing the native supply for systems and applications will increase the impact of the sector on the anticipated outcomes in healthcare, finance, logistics and industrial process optimisation.
As a current supplier to the research sector working on quantum computing, M Squared Lasers has a range of preferred local suppliers of raw materials and components who stand to benefit from the proposed supply chain developments. This will have spillover effects for job creation and security for the suppliers and the local economies within which they are situated. To calibrate the external economic benefits we can evaluate the impact along the value chains that will emerge from the project. The supply chains for the commercial partners' operations, including raw material, components & electronics will see an additional ~40 jobs created upstream from the consortium over 5 years, around 90% of which are UK-based. The establishment of a strong UK supply chain in this area will strengthen the native expertise in this area whilst systems based on components from preferred local suppliers will drive efficiency in the value chain.
Downstream value creation will begin with research usage but soon gain wider reach as outputs are deployed widely within quantum computing and quantum information processing. There are a myriad of social benefits that practical quantum computing could enable over the next decades. The prospects for quantum simulations could be significant for a variety of fields including research-intensive pharmaceutical development. The Tufts Centre for the Study of Drug Developmentcalculates that the average cost of delivering a new drug to the approval stage is $2.6b. This represents a 145% increase on a decade earlier. The opportunity to drastically reduce this figure through complex simulation and reduction of the need for physical development of substances with a high failure rate.
 
Description This award has enabled us to investigate and develop new manufacturing techniques for optical crystals and packaging. Specifically, we have developed a low-cost, scalable process for manufacture of nonlinear optical crystals that are able to efficiently change the wavelength (colour) of lasers.
Exploitation Route The processes developed by the University of Southampton under ESCHER will be transferred to Covesion Ltd via our 2-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP11034) which started in November 2018. Through this KTP we will introduce new products and services; Covesion are the only manufacturer of these nonlinear crystal components in Europe and the findings of ESCHER will improve the company's ability to compete worldwide.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Other

 
Description Designs and manufacturing processes for optical waveguides in periodically poled lithium niobate have been transferred to Covesion Ltd. (originally a spin-out from the University of Southampton); this new technology will form the basis of additional product lines for the company. To date Covesion have supplied trial samples to customers and used the information developed by Southampton to build a narrative for investment and new grant proposals to help accelerate the development of our academic results towards new products.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Other
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Commercialising quantum devices: Pioneer Gravity
Amount £6,005,395 (GBP)
Funding ID 104613 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2018 
End 03/2021
 
Description Knowledge Transfer Partnership
Amount £144,000 (GBP)
Funding ID 11034 
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2018 
 
Description Senior Research Fellowship
Amount £428,225 (GBP)
Funding ID RCSRF1718639 
Organisation Royal Academy of Engineering 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 02/2023
 
Description ESCHER 
Organisation Covesion Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution ESCHER is a collaborative research and development programme in the field of quantum computing. Our aim is to develop supply chains for critical components and subsystems used for emerging quantum information technology devices and applications. The planned outcomes are primarily aligned with the quantum computing segment of the UK's roadmap for quantum technologies. In this project, the University of Southampton are developing nonlinear optical waveguide devices to generate single photons with tailored spectral characteristics for use in quantum experiments as a building block towards future quantum computers.
Collaborator Contribution ESCHER is an Innovate UK funded collaborative research project. MSquared Lasers are project leaders and responsible for the design and build of ESCHER pump lasers. Covesion provide expertise in nonlinear optical crystals and optical packaging. Oxford University are performing quantum optical experiments using single photons generated via the lasers supplied by MSquared Lasers and the PPLN waveguides developed by Covesion and the University of Southampton. The University of Sussex are providing expertise in ion traps and control electronics.
Impact Publications and further funding: see associated sections of the ESCHER project form.
Start Year 2018
 
Description ESCHER 
Organisation M Squared Lasers Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution ESCHER is a collaborative research and development programme in the field of quantum computing. Our aim is to develop supply chains for critical components and subsystems used for emerging quantum information technology devices and applications. The planned outcomes are primarily aligned with the quantum computing segment of the UK's roadmap for quantum technologies. In this project, the University of Southampton are developing nonlinear optical waveguide devices to generate single photons with tailored spectral characteristics for use in quantum experiments as a building block towards future quantum computers.
Collaborator Contribution ESCHER is an Innovate UK funded collaborative research project. MSquared Lasers are project leaders and responsible for the design and build of ESCHER pump lasers. Covesion provide expertise in nonlinear optical crystals and optical packaging. Oxford University are performing quantum optical experiments using single photons generated via the lasers supplied by MSquared Lasers and the PPLN waveguides developed by Covesion and the University of Southampton. The University of Sussex are providing expertise in ion traps and control electronics.
Impact Publications and further funding: see associated sections of the ESCHER project form.
Start Year 2018
 
Description ESCHER 
Organisation University of Oxford
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution ESCHER is a collaborative research and development programme in the field of quantum computing. Our aim is to develop supply chains for critical components and subsystems used for emerging quantum information technology devices and applications. The planned outcomes are primarily aligned with the quantum computing segment of the UK's roadmap for quantum technologies. In this project, the University of Southampton are developing nonlinear optical waveguide devices to generate single photons with tailored spectral characteristics for use in quantum experiments as a building block towards future quantum computers.
Collaborator Contribution ESCHER is an Innovate UK funded collaborative research project. MSquared Lasers are project leaders and responsible for the design and build of ESCHER pump lasers. Covesion provide expertise in nonlinear optical crystals and optical packaging. Oxford University are performing quantum optical experiments using single photons generated via the lasers supplied by MSquared Lasers and the PPLN waveguides developed by Covesion and the University of Southampton. The University of Sussex are providing expertise in ion traps and control electronics.
Impact Publications and further funding: see associated sections of the ESCHER project form.
Start Year 2018
 
Description ESCHER 
Organisation University of Sussex
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution ESCHER is a collaborative research and development programme in the field of quantum computing. Our aim is to develop supply chains for critical components and subsystems used for emerging quantum information technology devices and applications. The planned outcomes are primarily aligned with the quantum computing segment of the UK's roadmap for quantum technologies. In this project, the University of Southampton are developing nonlinear optical waveguide devices to generate single photons with tailored spectral characteristics for use in quantum experiments as a building block towards future quantum computers.
Collaborator Contribution ESCHER is an Innovate UK funded collaborative research project. MSquared Lasers are project leaders and responsible for the design and build of ESCHER pump lasers. Covesion provide expertise in nonlinear optical crystals and optical packaging. Oxford University are performing quantum optical experiments using single photons generated via the lasers supplied by MSquared Lasers and the PPLN waveguides developed by Covesion and the University of Southampton. The University of Sussex are providing expertise in ion traps and control electronics.
Impact Publications and further funding: see associated sections of the ESCHER project form.
Start Year 2018
 
Company Name COVESION LIMITED 
Description Covesion Ltd is Europe's leading supplier of periodically-poled lithium niobate (PPLN) crystals. We are an SME company founded on technology developed at the University of Southampton and have a 15-year track record in the manufacture of wavelength conversion crystals for scientific equipment, laser displays, missile defence, environmental monitoring, and quantum technologies. We actively participate in Innovate UK collaborative research projects with industrial and academic partners throughout the UK. 
Year Established 2007 
Impact Covesion has participated in several projects supported by Innovate UK; HELPS (K2515A), CFC-FREE (AF014L), MATRIX (56273), QWISPS (131877), QWISPS-2 (102668), CASPA (102805), ESCHER (104000), PEPE (3729), and three Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (8758, 9534, 11034). Covesion have commercialised the results of these projects and collaborations with the University of Southampton. There are currently 2 full time scientific/engineering posts within Covesion.
Website http://www.covesion.com
 
Description Innovation South Showcase on 27th March 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The Innovation South Launch Event recognises that businesses innovation is the implementation of new ideas, creating dynamic products or improving existing services.
Innovation can be a catalyst for the growth and success of your business, and help you to adapt and grow in a global marketplace.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description National Quantum Technology Showcase on 11th November 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Exhibitor - showcasing prototype wavelength conversion devices for generating 780nm laser wavelengths as a component for Rubidium atom traps.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Photonics Hub Industry Day at the University of Southampton on 20th September 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Departmental open day. Trade Show event and lab tours for visitors from industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018