February 14, 2024

Building quantum computers based on light, QuiX Quantum found their ‘sweet spot’ in Amsterdam Science Park

Quantum computing is a field filled with brain-bending concepts such as qubits, superpositions and quantum entanglement. One thing is straightforward: a lot of work still needs to be done before there’s a commercially viable quantum computer. Currently, the industry is at the so-called Noisy Intermediate-Scale Quantum (NISQ) stage. However, all the Big Tech players continue to invest heavily. The potential of such computers being able to solve complex mathematical problems – and also play tag-team with emerging AI technologies – is just too alluring. Meanwhile, in Amsterdam Science Park, the start-up Quix Quantum has established itself as the European market leader in photonic quantum computing. We spoke with Commercial & Partnership Lead Caterina Taballione about how they are developing not only award-winning hardware technology, but also a whole ecosystem – both here and across Europe.

, “Quantum computing will create many different applications for various industries – from banking to engineering ”

What are the potential applications for quantum computing that excite you most?

There will be many different applications for many different industries – from banking to engineering. But on the social level, I find the potential for the pharmaceutical industry the most exciting. To create new drugs, very complex calculations need to be performed that can take weeks or months to run and use a lot of computational power and energy consumption. With the right quantum algorithm, this could be brought down to hours – saving huge amounts of time and power.

What makes Quix Quantum’s light-based approach to building hardware so groundbreaking?

There are a few reasons – from very technical things to more commercial aspects. But at the core is how we’re using photonics not as a tool, or as an auxiliary technology, but as a quantum computing platform in itself. Photons have many unique advantages in terms of, for example, universality, reliability, stability and scalability. And we’ve proven it with our processors by winning the Prism Award for “Quantum Tech” last year.

And our success goes beyond the platform we use. It includes the architecture we are developing that makes it easier to increase the size of your quantum computer by stacking up different modules.

And I think we’re also very unique in that we have a fully European supply chain. Quantum computing is a sensitive topic from a geopolitical perspective, so we aim to boost a European ecosystem and become the European leader in quantum computing.

How important is building an ecosystem for quantum computing?

Very. Building a quantum computer is not easy. First you need a good architecture, then a good strategy on how to connect all the components – which all still need to improve as a continued work-in-progress. And this needs to be orchestrated with the entire supply chain. The industry really needs to be steered in developing and optimising processes to achieve these goals. This also involves a lot of strategic cooperation and partnerships. So, in fact, a big part of our job is to lead the industry in terms of ecosystem development.

Going Quantum: Building the tech – and the ecosystem

What are the challenges that keep quantum computer developers awake at night?

At the moment, we’re able to sell small-size quantum computing hardware with only a small number of qubits. As with all the quantum computing hardware players, the range of qubits on offer goes from just a few to a few hundred. All machines are still non-ideal. They have lots of noise and make errors, and you need to do a lot of calculations to correct for this. And the more qubits you have, the more noise you have. So, we’re still at the very early stages. Many people in the industry think we’ll need around a million qubits for a quantum computer – then we’ll really have something.

How does your location at Amsterdam Science Park help you in building a quantum computing ecosystem?

It helps immensely. It’s actually why we came here. We’re close to the university, with professors doing a lot of work relevant to our field. We are also very close to the national research institute for mathematics and computer science CWI, and the QuSoft Research Center for Quantum Software.

Certainly, the proximity with other quantum startups, such as the Quantum Application Lab and the Quantum Gateway Foundation, has already been very fruitful. Our location in the Startup Village means we can connect with other field players. In fact, the common area is very nice: we see these people on a daily basis, which really helps in terms of communication and building partnerships and more official collaborations with researchers. We’ve really found our sweet spot here.

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