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Testing in the Quantum Flagship’s Strategic Research and Industry Agenda

The new Strategic Research and Industry Agenda by the Quantum Flagship gives a great overview of publicly funded activities around quantum technology development in Europe. It encourages the involvement of industrial foundries and mentions test capabilities as a key infrastructure requirement for faster quantum chip development. In this news item, we highlight parts of the 270-page document on testing of quantum chips.

Quantum Flagship Strategic Research and Industry Agenda

The new Strategic Research and Industry Agenda by the Quantum Flagship.

The Strategic Research and Industry Agenda document is an EU-wide Strategic Plan concerning Quantum Technologies (QT) in Europe. The European Quantum Flagship is a project that makes sure Europe’s leading efforts are aligned and mutually supportive in the areas of Quantum Computing, Quantum Simulation, Quantum Communication and Quantum Sensing & Metrology. The project has received financial support from the European Commission in the scope of the Coordination and Support Action “QUCATS”.

Within the area of quantum computing, the qubits themselves are identified as an essential technology where progress needs to be made. We want to highlight three objectives for qubits that align quite well with what we think is essential for industry-level quantum chip production:

“Focus on material technologies and processing techniques to produce better and more reliable components”.

“Moving from university cleanrooms to reliable manufacturing facilities for large-scale QPUs will be quite costly but is important to achieve technological sovereignty and secure critical supply chains.”

“Fabrication facilities to prototype and test solutions towards error-corrected universal QC: higher gate fidelities, more qubits.”

Reliability of components is essential for current quantum computing demonstrators and future useful quantum computers. As we concluded in a joint paper with IMEC in 2023, the reliability of superconducting quantum processors is closely linked to the facilities and processes used for manufacturing and testing. The SPIE paper suggests moving superconducting qubit manufacturing and testing from small-scale laboratories to large-scale fabrication facility environments, or ‘from lab to fab’ as we like to call it. This will improve the quantity and quality of qubits on quantum processors, which is needed to reach quantum utility and quantum advantage.

In the video below, Orange QS’ Director of Development & Engineering, Thorsten Last, explains at Semicon Europa the key ingredients for developing superconducting quantum processing units at scale. He also shows our industry roadmap for QPUs towards quantum advantage, through more and better qubits.

 

Furthermore, the Quantum Flagship lists various European initiatives within the Horizon Europe and Digital Europe programs. One of them is the Chips for Europe initiative, which identifies testing facilities as vital infrastructure (p. 19)

“The Chips for Europe initiative has been developed to provide advanced technology and engineering capabilities, including specialized clean rooms, prototyping and production foundries, and testing facilities. This initiative will be essential to enable miniaturization, integration, reliability, and mass-market adoption of quantum devices.”

In the second part of the Strategy document, among the work that’s being done on enabling technologies (pp. 155-156), two areas in which action is needed to improve technology for the design and fabrication of quantum chips deserve to be highlighted.

  • Quantum Pilot lines should “reduce the entry barrier for the development and production of small volumes of quantum components and accelerate the innovation cycles”. As an example of current initiatives by RTOs, the Qu-Pilot project is mentioned – while expressing the need for industry-level processes and equipment.

“The ongoing Qu-Pilot initiative […] is a strong start but this needs to be up-scaled and widened towards the participation of industrial foundries”

  • Testing and experimentation are uniquely difficult with quantum chips. The full performance of a quantum chip can only be measured by calibrating and tuning up the qubits to levels of quantum computing operating conditions.

“Quantum chips require both in-line testing during production and end-of-line testing in an intensity that is, due to the requirement of quantum coherence, a lot higher than for classical chips. Also, testing and experimentation of quantum chips requires complex calibration procedures at cryogenic thermal regimes, resulting in a substantial exacerbation of the challenges with respect to the classical chips.”

The quantum chip test equipment required in the two areas mentioned above is not yet available. With the support of an EIC Accelerator grant and a pre-seed investment in the summer of 2023, we are building the first commercially available high-throughput test equipment for superconducting QPUs.

Lastly, the Quantum Flagship Strategy suggests that over the next decade, EU efforts should be focused on a large initiative based on a new European quantum agenda, along several action lines. Within the action line on ‘Leadership in the quantum ecosystem’, support for open testing facilities is expected, where components can be examined and assessed.

As we have illustrated, Orange Quantum Systems is well-aligned with this European strategic plan for quantum technologies. We specialize in providing our customers with state-of-the-art test equipment for their quantum chips. Our equipment greatly reduces their time to results, cost and number of engineers that need to be involved in building, maintaining and operating test equipment. This allows them to focus on the most critical parts of their development roadmaps, like designing, manufacturing and utilizing quantum chips.

We’re looking forward to doing our part in accelerating the advent of Quantum Utility!

Read the full Strategic Research and Industry Agenda here: https://qt.eu/media/pdf/Strategic-Reseach-and-Industry-Agenda-2030.pdf