Over 20 million for research on materials for the quantum age

Date of news: 3 May 2022

Researchers from HFML-FELIX are partners in a project that has just been granted  21.5 million euros from the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Over the next 10 years, they will work together with researchers from the Institute for Molecules and Materials and at several other universities on new, more efficient materials suitable for information processing in the quantum age. The project is led by Utrecht University.

“During the current ‘silicon age’, we have witnessed an extraordinary development in computing and information processing, with impact in communication, trade, knowledge dispersal, health and security, resulting in improved welfare for a large proportion of the global population. While the integrated circuits of today drove this revolution, they still suffer from a considerable loss of energy, that given the expected growth in information processing, is clearly unsustainable, ” explains Nigel Hussey, one of the involved researchers.

In order to solve this lurking problem, the consortium wants to develop and investigate an unprecedentedly broad spectrum of promising new materials. The ultimate goal is to design, fabricate and characterize low-dimensional materials with electronic, magnetic or even more complex coherent quantum states, and provide demonstrations of materials featuring coherent transport up to room temperature as well as scalable, affordable materials that could host robust qubit states. This will greatly increase the power of existing ways of processing information while at the same time making them more energy efficient. Such materials may open the window to more efficient classic computing and in due course, an upscaling of new quantum computing architectures.

Institute for Molecules and Materials

HFML-FELIX is scientifically embedded in the Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM) . This institute, with its world-leading expertise and facilities in advanced spectroscopy of quantum matter, will play one of the central roles in this project. Alexey Kimel: “It sounds paradoxical, but it seems that according to the fundamental laws of physics it should be possible to process and store information with nearly no energy costs. We are thrilled that with the help of this program we can explore this paradoxical field of so-called quantum materials.”

Operational role

In addition to the research that will be carried out into new materials at HFML-FELIX, members of the scientific staff have also roles within the operation of the program. Alix McCollam will serve on the Societal Impact committee responsible for translating the knowledge developed in QuMat to interested target audiences, while Nigel Hussey will serve on the Talent Committee responsible for developing the education program and the career development program for the 50+ PhD students that will be employed as part of this project.

Gravitation programme

Projects within the Gravitation programme rank among the world’s best in their respective research fields or have the potential to do so. The grant will allow researchers to conduct top-level academic research and to cooperate in a multidisciplinary manner. One of the pillars of the programme is cooperation across disciplines and universities. The Gravitation Programme is conducted by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. During this funding round, NWO received 40 applications, of which seven were awarded funding. In total, they will receive over 142 million euros in grants.

More information

NWO press release
Utrecht University press release
Nigel Hussey
Alix McCollam