Opening ceremnoy of the national Carl Zeiss Foundation Center for Quantum Photonics. Photo caption: f.l.t.r.: Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee presents the check to Prof. Georg Pohnert und Prof. Andreas Tünnermann.

Opening of the Carl Zeiss Foundation Center for Quantum Photonics (Jena-Stuttgart-Ulm)

ACP scientists partner with the universities of Stuttgart and Ulm to research three innovative subjects in quantum photonics
Opening ceremnoy of the national Carl Zeiss Foundation Center for Quantum Photonics. Photo caption: f.l.t.r.: Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee presents the check to Prof. Georg Pohnert und Prof. Andreas Tünnermann.
Image: Steffen Walther/Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung
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Published: | By: Vanessa Marquardt, translation by Gleb Chupakhin

The first national interregional Center for Quantum Photonics was opened on March 28th in locations at the universities of Ulm, Stuttgart and Jena. The center, financed by the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung with 12 million Euros, will offer about 50 female and male scientists a multidisciplinary and multi-location platform for research and communication. Ministers Theresia Bauer and Wolfgang Tiefensee presented a check for the total funding amount to the directors of the three locations at the opening in Stuttgart.

Lasers, magnetic resonance tomography and semiconductors are technologies developed from quantum physics that already shape our lives. The potential of quantum technologies in communications, computing, sensors and imaging dominates debate over the technological future. Supraregional platforms that bring different specializations together will be needed in order to realize this potential. Minister Theresia Bauer, chair of the board of the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung, is convinced that “quantum technologies have the potential to decisively advance areas of innovation. We have to create supraregional structures to share our knowledge and thus to occupy a leading position in international competition.”

A new generation of imaging and sensor technologies

Photonics presents a key technology in quantum sciences: photons function as sensing elements, data transmitters and quantum systems. The cross-linkage of quantum technologies and photonics forms the foundation of the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung Center QPhoton in Jena, Stuttgart and Ulm. The goal is the development of a new generation of imaging and sensor technologies based on quantum sciences. These technologies will allow for higher sensitivities and faster data processing. From fundamental research up to application, quantum photonics will be propelled by the connection of the three locations. Their respective strengths in the quantum technologies of atoms, solid bodies, superconducting materials and photons complement each other and allow for the directed support of junior scientists. “The CZS Center QPhoton offers a promising research platform in order to network innovative approaches in imaging, sensors and information processing. Quantum photonics is one of the most relevant key technologies in this endeavor”, explained Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee, member of the board of the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung.

This goal will be pursued across all locations of the CZS Center QPhoton in three innovation areas: Sensor technologies for observing quantum systems, quantum technologies for quantum imaging techniques and quantum-based information processing. In the area of sensor technologies for observing quantum systems, scientists will focus on the investigation and development of highly sensitive sensors. “Quantum systems, as they are already presently used for applications such as quantum computing, react extremely sensitively to external disturbances”, explains Prof. Joachim Ankerhold, location director of the CZS Center QPhoton Ulm. However, in order to purposefully investigate and utilize these systems, the systems need not only to be measured but also to be manipulated. “It is at this point that the newest and future techniques of sensor technology begin: they disturb the quantum mechanics of the system only minimally but return highly precise information about their actual quantum characteristics and quantum states”, explains Ankerhold further. This information consequently forms the foundation of observation and directed influence, for example during error correction of quantum computers or the optimization of material characteristics.

Novel applications like quantum microscopy in the life sciences, among others, will be developed in the Quantum Technologies for Quantum Imaging Techniques division. Determining the exact location and state of molecules could lead, for example, to the research of new applications in cancer therapy.”Optical methods are typically used to read quantum mechanical bits. One of the tasks of quantum imaging techniques is to improve the quality and reduce error rates. However, other light-sensitive objects could also be verified with fewer defects, for example through the use of entangled photon pairs in different spectral ranges,” explains Prof. Tilman Pfau, location director of the CZS Center QPhoton Stuttgart.

Photonic hardware for quantum computing

The development of data and signal processing methods, as well as of specific photonic hardware for use in quantum computing, is at the center of the Innovation Division Quantum-based Information Processing. “On one hand, quantum information processing can be used to overcome computing problems for which even the most modern high-performance computers are insufficient. On the other hand, the goal is to use new techniques to obtain information about physical systems that is not accessible with classical approaches and to relay this new information”, clarified ACP co-director Prof. Andreas Tünnermann, also location director of the CZS Center QPhoton at the University of Jena. In this regard, the new Center is involved in the identification of concrete quantum added-values for the economy together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering.

Roughly 50 female and male scientists will carry out their research together in the three innovation divisions of the CZS Center QPhoton. In addition to research collaborations, the researchers will benefit from mutual guest presentations, seminars and workshops. The available opportunities are complemented by interregional events and possibilities for continued learning.

About the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung

The Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung has chosen as its goal the creation of spaces for the development of scientific breakthroughs. As a partner of excellent science, the CZS supports fundamental research as well as application-oriented research and teaching in the MINT fields (mathematics, information technology, natural sciences and engineering). Founded in 1889 by the physicist and mathematician Ernst Abbe, the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung is one of the oldest and largest private science-financing foundations in Germany. The CZS is the sole proprietor of the Carl Zeiss AG and SCHOTT AG. The projects of the CZS are financed through dividends of the two foundation companies.