Microsoft and the University of Copenhagen are building the world’s first scalable quantum computer

Microsoft has officially opened the doors to a brand-new Quantum Materials Lab at its Lyngby site in Copenhagen, where together, researchers and engineers from Copenhagen University, the Technical University of Denmark and Microsoft, will build the actual materials for the first scalable quantum computer in the world.

The aim of the collaboration is to create the computer of tomorrow – a quantum computer – with powers so significant that it will decisively transform the boundaries of what’s possible. This is the next step of an already established collaboration with the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, which already possesses world-leading scientific resources within quantum physics, and the Technical University of Denmark, which houses leading nanofabrication experts.

Microsoft is running four other large quantum centers around the world, but the heart of the computer – the so-called qubit – will be developed from the Microsoft Quantum Material Lab in Denmark.

Possible global breakthrough
Microsoft’s Scientific director Peter Krogstrup (pictured above), who is also a professor at the University of Copenhagen, will be responsible for running the lab on a daily basis – and he’s hopeful that the new settings will lead to global breakthrough:

“The new Materials lab will make it possible for us to take our research to the next level and the ramifications of such an innovation could have a great impact on society. A Quantum computer would be able to make certain calculations in minutes that a traditional computer would take billions of years to solve. The challenge is that the quantum states used for the actual calculations are extremely fragile and difficult to sustain and read off. That’s one of the things that we are now able to investigate further here in Denmark, and hopefully it will lead to a global breakthrough” says professor Peter Krogstrup.

Temperature, for example, is particularly crucial for the quantum states, resulting in a requirement for the computer to be cooled down to absolute zero. The materials in which the quantum states are located must also be perfect. Even a single atom cannot be misplaced, and some materials seem more applicable to contain the qubits than others. This will now be investigated further at the Microsoft Quantum Materials Lab.

The increased power of the quantum computer will be relevant in many contexts within our society:

“We anticipate a need for increased computing power within a number of areas. The quantum computer will, in the long run play, a crucial role when it comes to developing and improving medicine, enabling researchers to develop new types of material and increasing cybersecurity to a new level. Not only that, it’s also a completely new way of thinking”, Peter Krogstrup says.

Historic roots
Microsoft’s decision to place the Quantum Materials Lab in Denmark and collaborate with the University of Copenhagen is no coincidence. The long Danish tradition, history of quantum research, and expertise within this field has roots going back to H.C. Ørsted and Niels Bohr.

Managing director of Microsoft Development, Charlotte Mark is very optimistic regarding the possible results of the collaboration:

”Copenhagen University is among the leading institutions within the field of quantum research in the world, and in Microsoft we have a long tradition of both developing and applying intelligent technology. It’s our hope and ambition that by combining our resources we can take quantum computing to the next level, where it will have a great benefit for our society”, Charlotte Mark says.

Microsoft has invested significantly in the new lab, which is scheduled to run for a number of years. It’s the next step in the collaboration between Microsoft and the University of Copenhagen – a collaboration which was established in 2017 – with the scope of creating the first scalable quantum computer in the world.

Quick facts:
• The quantum computer will set new standards for how data is computed and processed
• Microsoft is launching the Quantum Materials Lab in Lyngby – the first of its kind with the scope of developing the hardware that constitutes the heart of the computer
• The area outside the Quantum Lab has been transformed into a public Quantum Park. Passers-by can learn about quantum leaps, quantum computing and how Microsoft is developing the quantum computer.
• The Microsoft Quantum Materials Lab is located in part of the building that faces out towards the public, where people are able to see researchers working on the materials for the future quantum computer.

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